Mt. Tam glimpsed through the handlebars of my bike by the Corte Madera Creek, Greenbrae
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.
Mt. Tam glimpsed from he path along the Corte Madera Creek in Greenbrae
It’s “crab season”¹ on the creek … that is, it’s that time of the year again when high school kids are trying out for crew in the Junior program at the Marin Rowing Association. Watching them out there focused and working hard brought back memories from years ago when my sons did this, year after year. All in all, some six years I spent getting ready with them around late September, gearing up for the fall regattas and helping them train with the best way I could: feeding them the right stuff to give wings to their oars. Well, not the oars, but the energy that powered their bodies to move the oars….
1. Crab, or Catch a Crab: “A rowing error where the rower is unable to timely remove or release the oar blade from the water and the oar blade acts as a brake on the boat until it is removed from the water. This results in slowing the boat down. A severe crab can even eject a rower out of the shell or make the boat capsize (unlikely except in small boats). Occasionally, in a severe crab, the oar handle will knock the rower flat and end up behind him/her, in which case it is referred to as an ‘over-the-head crab.”
To see what it’s like to catch a crab in action, take a look at this video
Mt. Tam glimpsed at the edge of fog
Though lately the pictures of the mountain I keep putting up here have been form the time of day when the light is the clearest and the brightest, my words in these posts have been dwindling, much like the hours of daylight with summer’s near end. Since I am out of fresh words of my own, I’ll turn to the wordy treasures of others, choosing this Rilke sonnet to Orpheus to share today:
Call me to the one among your moments
that stands against you, ineluctably:
intimate as a dog’s imploring glance
but, again, forever, turned away
when you think you’ve captured it at last.
What seems so far from you is most your own.
We are already free, and were dismissed
where we thought we soon would be at home.
Anxious, we keep longing for a foothold–
we, at times too young for what is old
and too old for what has never been;
doing justice only where we praise,
because we are the branch, the iron blade,
and sweet danger, ripening from within.
–from “The Sonnets to Orpheus,” by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Stephen Mitchell
Mt. Tam glimpsed at sunrise
These are not the last lazy days of summer. Mornings arrive chilled as if it were late October already. Still, the light over the mountain glows, even if that clarity and the suggested warmth are moving a little more beyond my reach these days.
Mt. Tam glimpsed between columns from the US 101 underpass along the Corte Madera Creek
A change of seasons is just around the bend. Shadows that loom a little larger and the light that recedes a little faster these days. This used to be my favorite time of the year, a transition inward. Not so much lately, as that inwardness that a few years ago seemed like a cozy respite between projects, now seems like a hard and cold narrowed space, a diminishing. Of possibilities or perspective? Hard to tell when one stands in the narrowing shadows.
Mt. Tam glimpsed from the Larkspur-Corte Madera path
Four in the afternoon. Albeit a Friday afternoon. The path empty as far as the camera can see. The mountain dwarfed by so much absence. Many minutes go by before groups of people show up in clusters and then disappear again. Some whiz by on bikes. Others amble with leashed dogs that sniff around the bushes and rocks. Much later still, high school students out on a training run. One boy, with feet reluctant to leave the ground, brings up the line. He is out of breath and his eyes are fixed to the patch of path he covers with each belabored running step. And the mountain is behind him – far, far out of sight.
Mt. Tam becoming visible through fog
This morning seems to have happened a century ago. It’s dark now. Cicadas are striking up their nightly symphonies in the darkened halls of night. I am thinking back to this morning, to the world coming into sharp focus in full color made that much more vivid by the light of the sun. All that brilliance and promise turned into memories now.
This morning, so expansive, seems so far away in the limited horizons of night. I am feeling the distance between the start of day and the night. I am feeling my age tonight. A few days ago, I felt like a kid, as I was lapping up the road on my bike, mile after mile through the wine country. Tonight it’s a different story. One narrated by my wearied bones, instead of my effervescent dreams.
Mt. Tam glimpsed through a cobweb in the chain-link fence near Kent Middle School, Kentfield
I couldn’t see them that well at first. I was on my bike still and preoccupied with the idea of taking a picture through the opening in the fence. They were walking behind me toward the full light of the sun, which washed out their features. I heard them though. He spoke in a harsh tone. “Why do you do these things to make me unhappy?” He said other things in a rapid succession too, which I don’t remember word for word. She never replied to him. I thought that odd. A quarreling couple would lob the hurts and insults back and forth, keeping score for each one that hit and each one that missed. “You could have called me. That’s why you have the phone.” It was his voice again, anger and hurt fused.
So I looked. Turned my head and glanced in their direction. Both of them tall and willowy and dressed in jeans and T-shirst. He appeared older than the voice suggested. And she, with her long hair lapping in the wind turned out to be a teenager, if that. Father and daughter. I should have known that without looking. Their relationship was spoken for loud and clear in her silence.
Mt. Tam glimpsed on a Monday morning in September
It’s Monday morning. The thick layer of fog burned off fast, leaving a few recalcitrant wisps hanging around the mountain, which wasn’t going to glow for me at this late hour for the sun to hit its slopes. But it’s an apt picture for a Monday, even if it suggests nothing beyond a pale blue blandness. It’s the start of another workweek for many of us, even for those of us who happen to like our jobs. Hoping that when my stubbed toe* heals (it is a wild and thickened quilt of purple and blue and black right now) I’ll be back out on the road (whether on foot or on two wheels) and so will be able to go looking for other views of the peaks than the same old, same old….
*Stubbed my toe on the legs of a couch after I came home from my 50K bike ride on Saturday. Couldn’t believe how painful it has been and how it has affected my mobility. Who knew such small appendages can saddle us with such big pain…