dreaming in the shadows of the Sleeping Maiden

Mt. Tamalpais, December 31, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from that path along Corte Madera Creek, Greenbrae

Sure, it would have been absolutely lovely to have that perfect photo of Mt. Tam to show on the last day of this project. But that only happens in the albums of a mind framed by the hard wood of perfectionism. Not that I didn’t spend a good part of the day taking pictures from the time the sun came up until now. In fact, I had taken more photos today than probably all the days of some months in the last year.

There were some richly green pictures of the slopes from this morning, but in the end, I chose one of the last-minute pictures I took on my bike ride along the Corte Madera Creek. I haven’t been on the bike for weeks and by the time I got out there, the sun was slipping fast behind the ridges and the clouds were gathering near the peaks, flattening the light. Still, even with the lesser greens and poorer light, I chose this picture as the last one because of the boat hauled unto the dock in it. After all, it’s the end of the journey in a year of daily photos of the mountain. The mountain will still be there, always in plain view, even in that of mine … that is, for as long as I live in this region.

Mt. Tam will keep on posing for others who are much better at capturing her profile in the changing light of the seasons and of the days. For my camera, for now, she’s saying good night … and so am I….

Mt. Tamalpais at sunset

Mt. Tamalpais, December 30, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from the path along Corte Madera Creek, Greenbrae

Well then, it’s getting mighty close to “last call” around here. One more shot to come, so to speak, of trying to pour the spirit of the mountain into the glossy container of a single image for the day, and then it’s closing time around here.

Already I am wiping down the counters with the frayed cloth of neglect, stacking the empty glasses that never got filled with heady mixed offerings, capping some of the bottles of bubbly gone flat that I opened in haste, thinking they would make for quite the cocktail of words and images.

While I wait to ring the bell on that last call, I’ll just take a step back, as a rehearsal for tomorrow … watch the sun set on the mountain. I’ll just bask in the light a little more, seeing it for its alchemy, for the ways in which it has turned the fleck of every day into the solid gold bar of a year … at least in memory.

Mt. Tamalpais, December 29 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed by Peggy Butler at Loch Lomond, in San Rafael

Three days left of the year … and of this project. This morning, the skies in Vancouver are densely packed with extra thick layers of clouds. The waters of the bay through the lightly tinted hotel windows appear dulled beyond any hope of teasing reflections out of them. Little seaplanes, but looking much like seagulls on steroids, swoop in and out taxing on the tinned water as they come and go to places on the island. The small forest at the point of Stanley Park is a color I can’t describe, but even if I could, green wouldn’t be one element of it right now. Beyond Stanley Park, Lion’s Gate Bridge, barely visible, but enough of it revealed to suggest an illusion of a shrunken Golden Gate Bridge that has been painted the wrong color.

It is now a little past five in the afternoon and I am ensconced in a chair at the Vancouver airport, waiting to board my flight back to San Francisco. Finally, a less-than-wonky connection to the Internet today, so that I could fetch the lovely photo Peggy took of Mt. Tam earlier today. By the looks of the skies over Mt. Tam, it appears that what I had to say of the landscape in Vancouver is applicable to Marin today as well, except that the waters of that more southerly bay are more coppery and the cloud cover over the mountain a little fluffier….

It has been an odd experience to attempt to post about Mt. Tam while trying to get reacquainted with the winter landscape in Vancouver – not to mention with relatives at holiday time. As I sit here, waiting to board my flight, I keep thinking that I failed a little at each of those things. Even with the wonder of the internets that can make you be in all sorts of places at once, talking to people apart, more than just in terms of geography, it is impossible to fully inhabit all those spaces, not to mention engage with all those people at once.

Mt. Tamalpais, December 28, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed by Peggy Butler from the Town Center in Corte Madera

From Peggy’s picture of Mt. Tam today, I gather that clouds flattened shadows and leached much of the color out of the landscape in Marin. I spent the better part of the day with my relatives, with a long break in the afternoon at a delightful spa … which is my excuse for today’s lax prose. That, and the delicious dinner with old friends….

Mt. Tamalpais, December 27, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed by Peggy Butler from Alta Vista, San Rafael

It’s overcast in Vancouver, with thick layers of clouds hanging low and obscuring the wide bowl of sky I recall from my days of living here. To see the picture of Mt. Tam with blue skies and sunshine from where I am now makes for a feeling that is at once familiar and strange. It’s as if I were at home in both places at once, and, at the same time, away from any home I’ve known. The Internet, through which posting this is possible, gives me the illusion that home is always and simply a click away. But, as I am finding, that click can just as easily displace me from any place in which I thought I had solid roots. In fact, that click can just as easily dislodge the idea of place itself….

Mt. Tamalpais, December 26, 2012

Mt. Tam under changing skies, captured by Peggy Butler

Peggy took this lovely picture of Mt. Tam changing colors under fast-moving clouds earlier today while she was out walking with her canine family member, the incredible Cody, who, according to some, walks on paws large enough fit for a Sasquatch. It was great to see patches of blue skies, even if only in pictures, way south from where I am, here in Vancouver, where 50 shades of grey don’t even begin to cover the many ways in which that color comes to life.

Here in Vancouver the North Shore Mountains kept themselves out with view, shrouded in layers of clouds that didn’t budge much through the day … a day that seemed very short, at least in terms of daylight hours.

Thinking of rainbows and sun might just be the way Mt. Tam cast a long shadow over my mind today. A mind that is a bit mired right now in Christmases past, not to mention the bogs of memory of a city the way it was when I used to live here, barely readable now in its reconfigured grids of streets and skyline.

Mt. Tamalpais, December 25, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed by Peggy Butler from the Loch Lomond Marina

When I woke up this morning, the first thing I saw were snow-covered peaks. For a split second I thought Santa had brought a wintery touch to Mt. Tam this Christmas morning, but then I realized, I was far north from there and, in fact, staring at the more rugged, and certainly more foreboding peaks of the North Shore Mountains in Vancouver.

Meanwhile, as I watched the layer of clouds descend slowly over the slopes of Grouse, back in Marin, Peggy Butler and Cody, her dog, were braving the elements in the Loch Lomond Marina to bring you this mystic view of Mt. Tam from across the water. She had sent me a series of wonderful pictures, making the choice to post a single one truly difficult. In the end I settled for this one, because of the clouds… Especially the clouds near the mountain that seem to have gathered themselves into the shape of a woman’s profile, as if the spirit of the sleeping maiden had risen from a long dream to join us at the table to share in the bounty of this holiday season that ends with the start of a new year.

Mt. Tamalpais, December 24, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed at sunrise

With the first light of our post-storm sun all sorts of things became visible and colorful again, even through the wisps of fog clinging to the soggy floor of the valley and through the columns of smoke rising from chimneys down the hill. Not that it was cold last night, but maybe someone decide to make the chute warm and toasty for Santa. Either that, or perhaps, this Californian, missing a more northern climate, decided to get a head start on the sparking Yule logs before “spare the air days” nix this tradition.

As for me, as I am writing this post, I am entering Santa’s territory, so to speak, but heading in the opposite direction. I am up in the air, some thirty thousand feet above the ground, hurtling in a plane and looking down at snowy peaks along the coast on my to Vancouver.

With a week to go on this project, I have enlisted Peggy Butler’s help to be the eyes for catching views of Mt. Tam while I am away. Can’t wait to see the pictures she will take, as she is an accomplished photographer who captures the most amazing angles and hues of the endlessly changing Marin landscapes.

Mt. Tamalpais, December 23, 2012

Mt. Tam, unglimpsable in stormy weather

Rain. More rain. And even more wind. Trees, power lines swaying in the wind. Rain rushing up the hill in sheets, and rivulets cascading down the hill, filling gutters with leaves.  It’s a winter storm, California style, all right. Got most of my electrical devices plugged in to charge, in case the power goes out.

I have to venture out later, but I doubt I’ll see the kind of panicked shopper gridlock I was privy to yesterday. I have lived in Marin a long time, but for all those years of surviving the holiday rush, I sure don’t remember such traffic before the last of the big shopping days. A shopping frenzy that seems to go counter to all the news about people not spending on account of their fears for an economic downturn. Or maybe this rush on stores around here is a specific symptom for the Marin variety of economic anxiety.

And yet, when I went to San Anselmo yesterday afternoon, I found plenty of parking places, stores nearly empty but “manned” by very friendly local owners. I don’t get it…. Apparently, neither does the better portion of Marin’s population that’s fighting it out for parking spaces in the mall parking lots and then desperately rush through the mountain of stuff that appears to give such choice of goodies at a first glance that it leaves one in a stupor … exactly where the shopper should be if these stores want to raise the bottom line on this year’s sales.  Then again, I also know a number of people who have jobs just now, because it’s more than business as usual at the shopping centers. And so we ride on the merry-go-round again, as some of us feel the exhilaration of going in familiar circles while the others keep fighting the vertigo and nausea at every turn of the same old track.

Mt. Tamalpais, December 22, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed in variable weather

A bit of everything earlier this morning, sun, clouds, blue skies, sheets of rain – but no lightning and thunder. That was in the middle of the night, with fierce winds and enough ruckus to scare the bark out of our dog….

Don’t know which way the day will be headed. More dark clouds, or sunshine? Rain or the newly greened world aglow in bright light?

It doesn’t matter, because having it all, as we did this morning, is enough. More than enough.

Here is a lovely post on the “afterlife” imagined, had the world ended yesterday (via Dale on Facebook)