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dreaming in the shadows of the Sleeping Maiden

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Mt. Tam glimpsed from one of the Greenbrae hills

For the better part of the day there was a leaden lid over the sky, flattening the light over everything. By afternoon, some sunshine bubbled over, burst through the streaked steam of blue, setting the weight of clouds askew. All this made for great play of light over the mountain, none of which made it into any of the shots I took today.

Mt. Tam glimpsed from the parking lot of an office complex on Redwood Highway, Mill Valley

As thin layers of clouds kept gathering volume from morning on and filtering the light that bleached the mountain blue, so did my preoccupation grow with tasks that had to be accomplished sooner, rather than later. The only time left for a “Mt. Tam photo-op” then was a quick run to the hardware store with a detour to a conveniently empty parking lot from where to record the receding outline of the ridge, which, I suppose, mirrors my own waning focus on “peak issues” today.

Mt. Tam glimpsed from Remillard Park along East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard

Speculation abounds about where along the coast of the Pacific Sir Francis Drake landed during his long voyage between 1577 and 158 to claim Nova Albion for Queen Elizabeth I. Because of political shenanigans to keep the uneasy truce with Spain, the exact location of where Drake made the claim was to become a state secret. Some say Drake landed as far north as Comox, British Columbia in Canada, while others single out Drakes Bay in West Marin. Still others point to, well, Point San Quentin and the San Francisco Bay, which is where I was when I took today’s photograph of the mountain, along with Dennis Patton’s 30-foot representation of the adventurer looking more like the limber Don Quixote of the imagination than the bedecked English knight of history.

For us in Marin – and I can safely assume to say this as a fact – the name of Sir Francis Drake is constant currency and a definite presence, regardless of the historical facts of his actual presence in these parts of the world. By the way, the same cannot be said with our familiarity with the name of Dennis Patton, who created Drake’s likeness along the path some of us traverse several times daily, perhaps. Had it not been for this project, I wouldn’t have come to know it this surely either.

Mt. Tam glimpsed from a parking lot at the College of Marin, Kentfield

I took this photo in the morning, when it was obvious that the day was only going to get better and brighter, with the light painting one magical image after another over the same old landscape. All of which promised to make the choice of picking a single picture for this project, should I had gone on to take photos for the rest of the day, a difficult task.

As it turns out, my car is still in the repair shop & I am without rides just now, so I am pretty limited in exploring venues from which to take in visions of Mt. Tam anew. Which means that this morning’s photo, the first (and so far the only) one, will have to do as much by choice as necessity.

I am sure the “local” Twitterverse and blogosphere will be sporting plenty of amazing shots of the San Francisco Bay Area gleaming and preening in the balmy sunlight of late January. So go on then, take off and enjoy those other visions. This one is going to stay in the parking lot for now…

Mt. Tam glimpsed through the bare trees from the campus of the College of Marin in Kentfield

Yes, it’s fully there … and from some angles looming large. I barely noticed the mountain today. I don’t think I was the only one in that state. There was a long line of us, young and old mixed about in equal measure, standing bewildered and waiting for our turn to register. According to Wikipedia, the College of Marin has been in operation since 1926. That should make it quaint – but the budget crunch in education leaves it with a new interpretation of just what passes for quaint … and shabby chic is not one of those.

Still, we, young and old, rich or poor, are incredibly lucky here in Marin to have access to so many interesting venues to pursue our interests, whether for education, job skills, self-improvement, or leisure, through the programs of the College of Marin. Over the years I’ve lived in Marin, I’ve taken credit classes in computing science, Italian, and accounting – and I thoroughly enjoyed them all. Yes, even the accounting!

Mt. Tam glimpsed like an illusion from Greenbrae

This morning it looked a little like an optical illusion, the peak larger than I remembered it, rising from the sunlit lake of fog and into the swirl of clouds. A gloomy early morning on which the sun went to work to rend the night that was with light, but the blues persisted throughout the day, sometimes turning brilliantly light in the angled play of sun, and at other times, when the clouds fringed the horizon, changing to a somber tone, evoking the coming of another night.

Mt. Tam peaking through a band of fog glimpsed from the intersection of Sir Francis Drake Blvd. & Bon Air Rd., with the bells of San Sebastian in the foreground

…think of the spirit of darkness
that did not abandon you,
and the earth that rests outside you, wanting
the form for which it was created–

“January Dawn” by Brenda Hillman – from the collection Bright Existence

Mt. Tam, glimpsed from the marshes across The Village Shopping Center in Corte Madera

Last of the clouds from the gloomy days of rain hanging around, like party guests who have overstayed their welcome. Tomorrow the mountain should be visible again, though what impressions it will make, remains to be seen.