Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Thursday, June 21, 2012
It's summer. The air is warm, and it sticks to your skin. Scents of food and flowers, chlorine and sunscreen, waft through the air, through the windows, through the countenance of the season. The hot winds blow hair into whorls as sweat beads on the temples and neck and clavicle. Magic happens now, scandalous things that make you blush and tingle beneath raised eyebrows and wide eyes. The energy of something about to happen crackles like the moment just before lighting strikes. Fires are set. They burn everything that has worn out its welcome, that has come and gone and since dried up, which feeds all that is poised to emerge from the ash-laden soil. Fed by those hot winds, the scene is set for new possibilities, the likes of which we can hardly imagine.
Friday, June 15, 2012
- Take the high trail along the ridgeline. You will just have to backtrack. Instead, take the trail that curls down and along to the right, crisscrossing over a small stream through some gorgeous, cool forest in the valley.
- When you reach the intersection of trails 120 and 122, don't turn right on #120. You will just run into a woman and her 10-year-old son training for Half Dome by hiking the 17-mile trail you and your friend shunned, and they will persuade you to turn around and backtrack to the intersection. Showoffs. Instead, turn left onto #120, crossing the creek once again.
- When you reach another intersection where the main trail curves to the right, away from Stack Rock (which you can now see in the distance), don't freak out and wonder where the trail to the left goes. Just follow the main trail to the right, even though it looks wrong.
- When you finally reach the marked trailhead for Stack Rock (#125), don't walk past the open area on the left. Sit and have lunch there; listen to the sky and the breeze and the birds. This is one of the few things we did right. Don't choose an unsheltered spot for a pit stop, unless you're okay with being buzzed by a prop plane while your bare ass is out in the open.
|The lunch spot. Don't take the trail behind that log.|
- When you've made your way around the Stack Rock loop, having marveled at the looming granite above you, don't decide to find out where the trail behind the trail 125 marker goes. It's not a short-cut. It's a long-cut. It will switchback through the open meadows of the foothills and dead-end at Bogus Basin Road. From there, it's 2.75 miles along Bogus Basin Road back to the car. Uphill. In the sun. With cars whooshing past you, none of them even giving you a funny look. As if two thirty-something women wearing hiking clothes and day packs walk along the winding mountain road all the time. If you walk up this road and you'd like a ride back to the car but have too much pride to thumb it, don't look healthy and capable. Do exaggerate a limp or rest woefully against the concrete barrier.
- Don't get upset when your best-laid plans go astray. It may be a long-ass haul, but with the right company, an appreciation for some gorgeous scenery and a sense of adventure, it'll be a great day that you can brag to your friends about. This, we also got right. It was worth it:
|Stack Rock: worth the trouble it takes to get there|
|The view from behind Stack Rock|
Friday, June 08, 2012
Other birds have flown into the door before, but they flew away unharmed. This one didn't make it. And I was so sad. I would have been sad if it were any of the many house finches that hang around the feeder all day, or the robins that fend off the squirrels in the trees, or the mourning doves that tiptoe across the roof. But this bird was a western tanager, with its deep black wing weathers and golden yellow head, an orange crown spreading. I had never seen one before moving here, and its bright feathers made my little wooded yard feel so magical. Birds fly into windows all the time, all over the world. I knew that they flew into mine and I didn't do anything to make sure it didn't happen again. I did nothing to prevent this beautiful bird from flying into my door, and now it is dead.
This evening I watched a movie in which one of the main characters reveals that he has a disease and that he is dying. In one dramatic scene, he screams and writhes in pain, not from the disease, but because he doesn't want to die. And I cried for him, because I know that's how I'll go someday, kicking and screaming in protest, and I cried for the bird, this beautiful bird, because I feel responsible for its death. The man in the movie was a billionaire, but he died, just like everyone else. In this magical yard where life teems, this poor bird died. One can have it all, and still, death comes knocking at the door. Right away, I covered my door with stripes of white, yellow, and green electrical tape, the only thing I could find that would prove to the birds that something solid marks the boundary between the porch and the house, so that no more magic will be lost. At least, not if I have anything to say about it.