And so September takes its leave. Tomorrow a new week and a new month. The hottest day we never had all summer is still yet to come — apparently tomorrow. The cicadas are working overtime, striking up the cacophonous choral, eager to usher in warm nights, even if the heat will wane with the setting sun.
Crisscrossing the hills of Greenbrae again, on foot. Noticing a few leaves turning pale with a blush at the edges. My peregrinations take me down to the creek, again. The afternoon is heating up, as if in rehearsal for the streak of heat in the forecast for the next few days. The usual suspects on the path along the creek. The same happy dogs and their humans; the old woman in the wheelchair, cheerily greeting me, again and again; the strollers and the kids on tricycles; the cyclists whizzing by; the lovers lingering… But here and there, it being the weekend, a few new faces. The man on the bench reading a stack of religious books, looking up from the pages, but not really catching anything in particular with his gaze. The ducks with their heads tucked inside their wings by the pond, oblivious to the man and his books and all others who walk by. And the crows, relentless in their vocalizing, rending the air. All of us together there, in the same space, but I doubt very much, if in the same world.
Another workweek flew by. Soon the whole months will have been done with. Come Monday, I’ll be counting down the last three months of this project. It’s a surprise to me that I have kept it up this long, day in day out. It’s also a surprise to me how I’ve taken to biking, when only a year ago I could never imagine riding, let alone riding through traffic and signing up for 50K rides as I work my way up for the century one.
Who knows what the next three months will bring. In the meantime, it seems from the pictures that I post that I spend a lot of time by the Corte Madera Creek. I do. I always have. It’s one of the most amazing places in the world when it comes to watching the art of light on the landscape.
Since I developed a trigger finger and got a cortisone shot for it in my hand today, I’ll have to stay off the bike for at least a week. This just means that I’ll be walking the same paths for a while as the tires of my bike have traced. So there are likely to be lots more pictures from along the banks of the creek with the sun showing off its loaded autumn brush.
Rode the bike out to Fairfax with the intent to shop for the amount (and kind) of groceries I could carry in my lightweight backpack on the ride back to the car. It’s a little ironic that I always have to drive the bike some distance before I can ride it, since I live in a hilly neighborhood and neither my legs nor my lungs can bear the grades on the return trip, for sure. But once I park the car on the flats and take off for my various journeys along the bike path where people of all ages and their pets mill with commuters, some on foot, some on bikes, trekking home from the ferry, as well as the high school kids running laps or getting geared up for crew by the boathouse, I get to pretend that I live in a world in which I would very much like to live. A world accessible from pretty much all points and populated by people of all ages. A world that I can take in through all the senses as I move through it. A world that could feel like one in which I belong, not one I travel through on my way hither or yon, oblivious to all that I pass. Such is the odd stuffing of my dreams lately….
We are due to visit people in Tiburon later today. I am considering riding over there on my bike. My legs are rearing to go, but my head is telling me that though the legs can delude themselves into thinking they are younger than the body to which they belong, the body needs the day off, especially since it has already been pressed into service earlier today when I took it for a long walk along the hills of Greenbrae. So much of my head given to arguing with the body lately, the energy that should be going into making words flow, now spent on trying to halt limbs gone out, well, on a limb, as they try to run backwards to reclaim ground lost to the pillage and plunder of so many years….
A busy day, most of it gone by in a daze … and every time I would glance at Mt. Tam as I ran errands, in the car, on the bike, or on foot, a day shrouded in haze as well. But there was that moment by the Corte Madera Creek, the bicycle leaned against the picnic table, when I sat down long enough to take in the landscape changing practically in front of my eyes as the late September light kept retouching the colors laid down by a summer that had moved on to work on the canvasses of memory.
The fog lifted and dispersed early in the day on this Monday, giving way to a promise of a gorgeous fall day, the season that is so often the brightest and warmest in our corner of the world. I tried to capture the same view of the mountain this morning as I had of it in the previous post from last night, just to see what changes the light brings. If not to the view, at least my take on it in words…
While I was waxing poetic about biking and being in the moment in the light of the setting sun, this morning, the light and weather report took me down a bumpy memory lane and had me apply a few proverbial brakes on the runaway speed of thoughts that were heading downhill.
I was thinking of the particular style of a loved one who never tires of complaining about the weather, which is always the worst at the moment that person speaks of it to me. For the longest time, I thought that talking about the weather was this person’s way of trying to connect, to find common ground. For the longest time, though, I also felt somehow responsible for the suffering the weather kept inflicting on this person. But this morning, as I tried to slow the pace of guilt set on the same course downhill, I realized that the weather happens to be the one thing in this person’s life that is completely outside control, real or imagined.
Over the years, it seems to me, I have become much like the weather to this loved one: out of reach and a constant extreme experience. I let myself drift out of the reach of the control this person kept over the image of me that reflected back an image of none other than the person in question. An image, though which glowed with the gilded embellishments of a better self….
I was out riding again. No particular route in mind. I would take stretches of bike paths and roads for a while, heading in one direction, only to change my mind, suddenly, as if the wind had whispered an exciting secret in my ear making me privy to some happening in another direction. And off I’d go in a new direction. Normally, on the weekend I have a riding buddy, but I was out there alone today. I have no preference as such about riding with friends or alone. Each way it’s a great experience. When I am with my riding buddies, I feel safer and also a little more adventurous, not to mention slightly competitive. When I ride alone, I come closest to a state of meditation, if meditation is about being in the moment. There is no way that I can describe what being in moment is like on the bike and do it full justice, but I can easily say that all sorts of things disappear from my normally turbulent stream of thought: time (past and future), worries, people, agendas, theories, “to do” lists, regrets, hopes…. What remains is a steadily flowing stream of smells, sights, and, above all, an alertness to everything that could endanger or impede the flow of these smells, sights, and yes, even the alertness itself.
I rode for some 25 miles this afternoon, with a brief stop for food and drink. I bracketed the ride with attempts to climb two hills that have scared me enough to turn that meditative state into, well, handlebar-gripping terror at descents and, of course, out-of-breath struggles on the ascents. One is Camino Alto, which connects Corte Madera with Mill Valley. The other is the Fairfax-Bolinas Road. I managed to climb a little higher on these hills today. Not very far from the start, mind you, but still, I was on my way. And I also managed to ride down a little faster, with my hands finally joining the hands of the inner child whose delight in biking, skiing, and skating like a fiend knew no bounds when I was still her age.
First day of fall. Sure enough, the air warmed up by several degrees. When I went for a walk with Marilyn of the Vision Book 365 project in the Pacheco Valley in Novato, the gold-infused light of fall seemed to warm up every square inch of earth exposed to it with a new, almost ferocious, force. We stayed om the cooler side by walking under the canopies of oaks, still bedecked in green leaves, and the filigreed cover of liquidambars with a good number of leaves that were blushing at the edges.
Though daylight is bound to become a precious commodity with the advance of fall into winter, the intensity and angle of the afternoon sun slicing through the ridges will have a way of dazzling as it will get more adept at piling on new hues over the old landscape.
Last day of summer. It seems the sun remembered too. Got much warmer today. The spouse and I had plans to take our bikes up to Napa, ride around, go have dinner, take to easy. So far, we just took it easy, which meant that the bike ride happened a lot closer to home than originally planned.
I got a new stem and handlebars for my bike to help deal with neck/hand issues that have been popping up for me on these longer rides. I can’t afford a new bicycle yet, but certainly can cough up a few bucks here and there for new parts. These new parts, I am happy to report, have solved some 75 percent of the neck/hand issue, at least on the shorter ride I managed to squeeze in.
Still, I feel a little restless having to say goodbye to summer. These days of transitions in the light used to be my favorite time of the year. Not so much lately, as I am getting older. The memories of summer and possibilities still too warm in my mind and the encroaching darkened chill of winter at the edge of my heart.