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Mt. Tamalpais, August 31, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from the parking lot of a medical complex on S. Eliseo in Greenbrae

A very chilly start to the day had me don winter socks this morning. Thick layers of fog blanketed Mt. Tam, keeping it well out of view of any rangefinder. Winds whipping around, as if it were already late October.

Close to midday, the clouds parted, right above the peaks of the mountain too, revealing blue skies, as if setting the stage for that blue moon to headline after sunset.

A Friday that went in the blur of fog and hefty breeze of winds. I did get on my bike, but it was hard going, especially uphill in head-on winds. Not fun, but necessary, at least for adding to my still meager repertoire of riding conditions.

I missed the rise of this second full moon of the month, as I was having fun with friends at happy hour tucked away in a restaurant sheltered in a grove of redwoods in Fairfax.

And so now the day is done, as is the month of August….

Mt. Tamalpais, August 30, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed in the haze of late afternoon sun

I couldn’t let August pass without bringing out this old (and once a favorite) poem from the 1970s by Robert Hass. Every time I read this poem these days, I remember the same 1970s and how deeply lost I was in the woods of words looking for an experience that was always right there in front of me in plain sight and in full light and always within reach. If only if had gone to pick blackberries, instead of studying Lacan…

Picking Blackberries With a Friend Who Has Been Reading Jacques Lacan

August is dust here. Drought
stuns the road,
but juice gathers in the berries.

We pick them in the hot
slow-motion of midmorning.
Charlie is exclaiming:

for him it is twenty years ago
and raspberries and Vermont.
We have stopped talking

about L’Histoire de la vérité,
about subject and object
and the mediation of desire.

Our ears are stoppered
in the bee-hum. And Charlie,
laughing wonderfully,

beard stained purple
by the word juice,

Goes to get a bigger pot.

– from the collection Praise (1979)

Mt. Tamalpais, August 2012

The distant peaks of Mt. Tam glimpsed in passing from the Marina in San Francisco

It was bound to happen … almost. I almost forgot to post today. Not that I didn’t take a picture earlier, but after a sweet day of tasting chocolate and then the mellow sunset air on a spur-of-the-moment bike ride, posting fell off my radar.

I spent the better part of the day with Peggy Butler of Success and Chocolate and a few delightful members of her family. After lunch in Marin, we hopped over to San Francisco for a tour of TCHO, where, after we learned all about the life cycle of the chocolate bean, we got to sample just about every type of chocolate this company that is innovative about “re-imagining what it means to taste chocolate” makes. I topped my tasting with a shot of hot TCHO chocolate, after which we headed to Sausalito, where we lingered a while at a dockside bar soaking up plenty warm sun and a little cool Sangria.

When I finally made it home, with the sun abut to slip beyond the ridge, I got on my bike for a quick ride to Fairfax, more specifically to Good Earth, where I was to meet up with the spouse for grocery shopping and a ride back for me and the bike in his car. Goal accomplished, that is, we got our groceries and I even managed to scrape some dinner together, and then, just as I was heading off to bed, I remembered my blog….

Mt. Tamalpais, August 28, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from Asher Clinic in Larkspur Landing

I never get tired of that odd feeling of surprise when I catch a glimpse of the Golden Gate ferries as if they were gliding into the terminal on the road in their own lane, parallel to Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.

This morning had me back at physical therapy at Marin Country Mart, the place we old-timers still call Larkspur Landing. Came away too mellow from my session to go in search of adventures, whether on foot or on the bike. Besides, I still had chores and work to finish, something that would take twice as long in this mellowed state.  And then, the sun came out. Really came out, with no clouds or fog to impede it. Our summer season is coming, almost on schedule. We do have the best summers just after Labor Day has come and gone….

Mt. Tamalpais, August 27, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from the Corte Madera Town Center at sunset

A long list of chores and the pressing needs of others ate most of my Monday in several big gulps. What is left now is the brain exhausted by the dullness of the mundane chores and the prickly worries over the needs of others, those needs that keep their own hours as they pursue their own agenda. That, and a set of tired, achy fingers that can barely type, but at least a mark has been made, even if it turned out be nothing more than just a scratch on the screen.

Besides, the idea that I could post a scintillating essay a day is ludicrous. As ludicrous as trying to contain a mountain in an image a day….

Mt. Tamalpais, August 26, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed at the end of a long bicycle ride – from Hal Brown Park in Greenbrae

Rode over 18 miles with a friend today. Back in January when I started this project, I envisioned lots of misty pictures of the mountain and a few words of poetry, some borrowed from better practitioners of the art, some mine. Never in a million years did I imagine that this blog would turn into a quasi bicycle chronicle. Back in January, if you have told me that I will be signing up to ride in tours, or that I will be riding on streets sharing the road with cars, or even that I would actually get myself on a bicycle, I would have laughed if not exactly hysterically, at least hard enough to burst something.

This friend and I used meet at coffee shops some weekend afternoons. We’d sit there drinking tea and eating pastries and we would complain about how our children have grown so far away from us that they seemed to have become nearly disdainful of everything we do. Sometimes we even took turns at crying a little.

We’ve been riding together for a couple of months now. A few weeks ago we did part of the Holstein ride in Petaluma. For long stretches of that ride, it would be just the two of us in wide open territory. No one in sight to make us feel as if we were on display or as if we had to be minding our p’s and q’s in order to fit someone else’s picture of who w might be. It was along one of those descents on San Antonio Road that I let go of the brakes because for the first time in years, I felt as if I had the wheel in my hands.

I signed up to do the Tour de Fuzz in Santa Rosa on September 8, regardless of who else was going come along. Back in January I could have never envisioned doing something like this on my own. If friends weren’t going to come along, well, I would stay put too… I think my friend caught that same bug, because today she told me she’s signing up too. So I am not going alone.

Today we rode, ostensibly to train, but mostly to have fun. We rode out to Fairfax, where they held the first “Streets for People Event,” in town with closing down a few blocks of Bolinas Road.

The Marin Bicycle Coalition offered valet parking for bikes, so after we entrusted our wheels to them, we walked around the crowds of mostly young families and watched kids have loads of fun. We stopped for lunch at The Hummingbird Café, where I went to town with ordering waffles and fried chicken.

We then hopped back on the bikes and took the long way back toward Bon Air Road, where I parked my car. We were having so much fun that we decided to keep going past Bon Air Road, across the hill to the Marin Country Mart in Larkspur Landing, where we had tea. Then, back across along the bike path and over the S. Eliseo hill, a quick, steep climb I never imagined taking fast … let alone biking it all the way up.

When I got back into my car, I realized that we spent about 4 hours together. In all that time, we mentioned our children only in passing, since one of hers called just as we sat down for lunch.

Mt. Tamalpais, August 25, 2012

Mt. glimpsed from the banks of Corte Madera Creek in Greenbrae

I am in mind for fragments today. Old ideas, like the stubble of mowed grass, desiccated, treaded on everywhere, mostly by wind, but still barbed enough to make thin skins bleed.  And new ideas, like the tender tufts of Queen Anne’s Lace sprouting from where its ancestors did the same a season or so ago. The bench, angled just so, but somehow still out of place. The mountain, a smoky blue, as if it had no substance. The cackle of crows, impossible to reproduce here, but so edgy as they rend the peace the picture of wide horizons would suggest.

Mt. Tamalpais, August 24, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from the Corte Madera/Larkspur bike path

What? Were you expecting another light-filled insight or some pretty poetry? Got nothing of that wordy sort today. Instead, my head is filled with cheap thrills … well, not so cheap, considering the price tag on the wheels that had me going after the buzz today.

With the folks in my household still asleep, long after the sun had come up and minced the fog into thin air, I set out on my trusty old hybrid bike for a meander. Eventually, my wheels took me to downtown San Anselmo, where I was going to stop for coffee, but instead stopped at 3 Ring Cycles, where I could not resist the offer to test ride a Bianchi Infinito. And so, for the next leg of my meanderings, I found myself rolling through Fairfax and then down (well, actually up at this stage) ever so lightly on Sir Francis Drake Blvd., headed for White’s Hill. And what a thrill to feel as if my legs have suddenly been infused with speed….

Some day, I hope to be hoisting such a light carbon bike atop the car, ready to go off further afield in search of new terrain. Until then, the memory of the easy ride will have to persist as much in my mind as in my legs. The ride back home from San Anselmo on my hybrid maybe wasn’t as thrilling as rolling fast on the red Bianchi, but it was still delightful enough to leave me deeply grateful for so many things, from the moments of health I am enjoying to the gorgeous and peaceful surroundings we here in Marin call home.

Mt. Tamalpais, August 23, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed through morning fog

Mt. Tam is playing peek-a-boo this morning. With her peak fortressed in fog, it’s hard to tell just how tall she may be.

With my day in a fog of errands, looks like my prose, like those peaks, is a matter of conjecture. So then, today’s picture will have to tell the story that may or may not be worth a thousand words.

Mt. Tamalpais, August 22, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from the bike path between Sausalito and Mill Valley

The highlight of the day was the 18-mile bike ride I took in training for my next big ride, the Tour de Fuzz in Sonoma on September 8. Some of my route today retraced the lovely guided tour Sally blogged of her ride from Tam Valley to Sausalito a couple of days ago. In fact, today’s photo of Mt. Tam is nearly identical to the one Sally captured along that same path from Sausalito to Mill Valley.

This was new territory for me, as far as exploring it on a bike is concerned. Once I rolled into downtown Sausalito, I became a little frazzled from all traffic with which I had to share the road and meandering tourists, some of them meandering bewildered on rented bikes. I can’t imagine (well, maybe I can) what a delight it must be for them to explore this part of the world on a bike. Maybe they expected their ride to be a sunny breeze in the high noon of August, not realizing that in these parts, the fog has its own agenda, regardless of the season’s plans. True to form, the fog kept rolling itself over the ridge and down the slopes in a rush toward the bay, whipping up a few strong gusts of wind in its playful slides, so at times biking even on the flats was a lot like pedaling uphill.

Once I returned to Mill Valley, I felt a bit like a tourist myself; turns out I am not that familiar with the bike routes in these environs. Most bicyclists are a very friendly lot, so it wasn’t long before a very fit older dude on a very fancy bike took enough time out of his speedy routine to explain to me how to get from Mill Valley to Tiburon without braving the crazy traffic over US 101.

While I pedaled like crazy along Tiburon Boulevard, I kept thinking how lovely it would be to have a bunch more bike lanes, or even more bike friendly streets, connecting all the towns in Marin. Not that we don’t already have tons of those … but the more I bike, the more I want to do it, not just for pleasure and sport, but also for commuting. It’s a very different world when you are in it, rather than hurtling through it in a car.