dreaming in the shadows of the Sleeping Maiden

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Mt. Tamalpais, October 31, 2012

Mt. Tam, impossible to glimpse behind the clouds

The first day of October burst upon us with 100-degree temperatures. The last day of October is about to end, having behaved more seasonably. Mt. Tam kept herself out of view all day, having already drawn the thick curtain of fog and clouds during the cover of darkness of last night. Though the landscape around my immediate neighborhood looked gloomy, elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area there was plenty of color, mostly orange, though, it being Halloween and the day of the parade for the San Francisco Giants, the World Series Champions of 2012.

I thought about taking my new bike, the Bianchi Zurigo, with its bright green (Celeste) handlebar tape, out for a spin in the wind and misty rain, but instead I spent the day catching up on chores and exploring Windows 8. And dreaming about the places this new bike could take me, should I train wisely and respect that aches and pains that trump the best coaches money can buy.

Already, as this project is drawing slowly to a close, I can see the beginnings of another, if not exactly one that involves daily postings. That new project has training wheels right now, but it also has big dreams. Century-sized dreams … which could translate into a new blog about old dogs and new tricks, or rather, what it might take for someone older than half a century to train for and then ride the 100 miles….

Mt. Tamalpais, October 30, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed at sunset

… and the mountain seems to be settling in for the night, perhaps a little slow at turning out its bedside lamp and drawing the cover of clouds over herself a little tighter as she readies herself for rain tomorrow …

Mt. Tamalpais, October 29, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed in the glare of sun

Still sunny, still warm, still calm … but I am not going to belabor it, given the monster storm on the other side of the continent. The only rent in this gentle fabric of our halcyon days is the sudden shriek of crows that comes on suddenly, as if an alarm had been set off, only to drop back into an almost airless silence as fast as it came on.

Mt. Tamalpais, October 28, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed in morning light

I know that there is a huge storm, a Frankenstorm, barreling toward the mid-Atlantic states, the Northeast, and New England. It’s difficult to fathom the scope of this event from this far and especially from where I am sitting: still “pretty” in the halcyon days of sunshine with plenty light and heat, and gentle breezes that lull the senses into even deeper complacency.

But once again, there it was, the glorious morning peeling back the night’s shadows from the mountain, just as my friend and I headed south to Woodside on the Peninsula to go riding with the Velo Girls. When we came upon the Golden Gate Bridge just after we emerged from the Waldo Tunnel, the sight nearly took my breath away. Layers of fog, sprinkled with the quilt of sparkles in the sun, drifted lazily under the bridge and over the span, leaving the iconic arches illuminated int heir full bright orange signature color. Across the bay San Francisco’s skyline peeking above the fog was also aglow, like a crown encrusted with diamonds. I think I had to blink a few times to believe my eyes, to accept such beauty as part of the landscape I call home.

Our ride with the Velo Girls in Woodside was an introductory session, so it was nicely paced and quite short at 15 miles. But what an incredible 15 miles. The road rolled gently, making the pace at times a challenge, but not an impossible one. After we came up on the ridge of one roller, I realized that entire beautifully paved road was closed to traffic and wide open to the hordes of cyclists that came around, some zooming without effort, other huffing and puffing.

Once again, I had to blink my eyes to believe what I was seeing. A cyclists’ paradise through scenery worth (ahem) paradise with the reservoir sparkling in the warm sunshine. I didn’t need to pinch myself, though, because my body felt the road, easy as it was for the others, all on their road bikes. By the end of the ride, I was the last straggler on my hybrid Breezer, which, though I rode in a higher gear even on the hills, still got me some decent speed and, for the first time, a really nice average rpm number for the entire trip.

Mt. Tamalpais, October 27, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed through a telephoto lens

Our halcyon days continue. More spectacular light and mild temperatures. The mountain couldn’t call out any louder to me, but once again, it’s only through the lens of my camera that I got nearer to the peaks today. Instead of a walk or a hike, it was more hours on the bike again, trying to store the bounty of light and mild breezes in the darkest recesses of my brain for the inevitable rainy days that will come.

In addition to the treat of light and heat, I had the fun of riding a bike I am thinking of buying: a Bianchi Zurigo. Yes, it’s a cyclocross bike, but for some reason, it seems to fit my biking style to a T right now. Planned on an easy ride today, since I am heading south with a friend for a group ride tomorrow, but with this baby on loan for a few hours, I just couldn’t get enough of the road, even if I didn’t get a chance to go off road with it.

Tomorrow I’ll be some distance from Mt. Tam, though with the moon nearing its full phase and skies clear of clouds and fog, I bet there will be some opportunities to catch the ridgeline through the lens in some sparkly moonshine….

Mt. Tamalpais, October 26, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed at sunrise

Sunrise was as glorious this morning as sunset was yesterday. The mountain glowed, seemingly from the inside, again. Among the foliage, windows and other reflective surfaces startled by the firs rays of the sun, put forth sparkles worthy of jewel tones. The spectacular sunrise gave way to a spectacularly clear day with views across the bay that seemed to go on forever. We do have so many of these days in this part of the world (or had them so far, at least) that it is easy to take all this beauty and serenity, this health and calm, for granted. I try to not do that. I try to remember to greet the light with gratitude and to be thankful that it persists for as long as it does. And if you forgive me for cutting this post short here, I am about to head out to revel a little longer in the glowing of the mountain from the other side now, as it is about to be illuminated in bright hues from the western skies.

It’s day 298, I believe, but yesterday’s post was my 300th, because of the two posts announcing the project back before the year started. In honor of the 300th post, I am featuring three photos today, taken pretty much from the same position, but at different times of the day.

Mt. Tamalpais, October 25, 2012

Mt Tam, impossible to glimpse in fog, clouds and mists of morning

Mt. Tamalpais, October 2012

Mt. Tam becoming visible in dissipating clouds at noon

Mt. Tamalpais, October 25, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed fully just before nightfall

Mt. Tamalpais, October 24, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed between a break in clouds

It’s going to be a bright, sunshiny day… Then again, maybe not. It doesn’t matter. It’s just weather. But this rendition by Johnny Nash, who wrote “I Can See Clearly Now,” makes me smile as it transports me across the rainbows of time to the always-sunny-lands of my youth. So it’s going to be a bright, sunshiny day after all, even under the wide reach of dark clouds, as I look forward spending time with friends later on.

Mt. Tamalpais, October 23, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed with clouds in transit

We had quite the cloud show in the skies for the better part of the day. In the morning, there was a contingent of thick clouds lined with ominous black, as if a storm was about to make an appearance. But then, something shifted as the clouds started to billow upward and to the side with fluffy puffs bursting every which way.

Mt. Tam seemed to snag quite a few of those clouds, halting them along their trajectory, as if to interrogate them, wanting to find out the secret of their buoyancy … but more than that, she wanted them to teach her the art of shape shifting.

Mt. Tamalpais, October 22, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed in a break of clouds, after the first big rain of the season

It rained last night. Started gently, then it poured. This rain meant business. I was expecting a dark day in its wake, but it took almost no time for the clouds to dissipate and let the sun come forth to illuminate the air that was scrubbed clean by the copious rainfall.

I went for a walk in the hills of my neighborhood to take advantage of the light and the fresh air.  Along the way I passed a number of houses that seemed to beep at me as soon as I came within their radius. Must be the latest in showing off that the security systems, which were also advertised on the lawns or the side of these houses, were working. Signs that even here, in the quiet suburbs with steep hills and no sidewalks, surveillance is just another convenience for the ease of mind, if not that of the heart.

Personally, if I had to live in a house that beeped every time something moved outside, no matter how discreet that beep was, it would drive me batty. It would, in fact have the opposite effect form the one intended. Instead of feeling reassured that I am secured by the technology and service of that company, I would be constantly alarmed, and reminded of the fears that make the sale of such systems a snap in places like my neighborhood that is one of the safest that I know. But that’s the flip side of those security systems isn’t it? Even as the systems to secure us get more sophisticated, they somehow ensure that our fears stay alive and well and keep growing.

I have walked this neighborhood for many years, in fact, more than a decade. I remember how shortly after 9/11 happened, I started to see more and more fences being built along my usual route in an area that was rather out of the way of traffic of any kind. Some of those fences are starting to show their age now. I wonder if they’ll be replaced with the electronic monitoring systems I am seeing more of these days.

Back when I first saw the fences go up I felt that people were retreating, erecting barriers to the world they did not comprehend, while they sought sanctuary within the hearth. Now, when I hear those beeps as I pass the invisible fences that are going up, I feel that people see themselves living in a world mapped only by the topography of danger. In such a place there is no relief for hearth. In other words, there is no longer a line in the sand between inside and outside, between home and the world for these people. Exposure is the quicksand on which the line keeps getting redrawn, if it gets drawn at all. Oddly, the fears not withstanding, this may not be such a bad thing. After all, that beep, unlike the mute fence, is a form of calling out, an engagement with the world….