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dreaming in the shadows of the Sleeping Maiden

Posts tagged Corte Madera Creek

Mt. Tamalpais, December 31, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from that path along Corte Madera Creek, Greenbrae

Sure, it would have been absolutely lovely to have that perfect photo of Mt. Tam to show on the last day of this project. But that only happens in the albums of a mind framed by the hard wood of perfectionism. Not that I didn’t spend a good part of the day taking pictures from the time the sun came up until now. In fact, I had taken more photos today than probably all the days of some months in the last year.

There were some richly green pictures of the slopes from this morning, but in the end, I chose one of the last-minute pictures I took on my bike ride along the Corte Madera Creek. I haven’t been on the bike for weeks and by the time I got out there, the sun was slipping fast behind the ridges and the clouds were gathering near the peaks, flattening the light. Still, even with the lesser greens and poorer light, I chose this picture as the last one because of the boat hauled unto the dock in it. After all, it’s the end of the journey in a year of daily photos of the mountain. The mountain will still be there, always in plain view, even in that of mine … that is, for as long as I live in this region.

Mt. Tam will keep on posing for others who are much better at capturing her profile in the changing light of the seasons and of the days. For my camera, for now, she’s saying good night … and so am I….

Mt. Tamalpais at sunset

Mt. Tamalpais, December 30, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from the path along Corte Madera Creek, Greenbrae

Well then, it’s getting mighty close to “last call” around here. One more shot to come, so to speak, of trying to pour the spirit of the mountain into the glossy container of a single image for the day, and then it’s closing time around here.

Already I am wiping down the counters with the frayed cloth of neglect, stacking the empty glasses that never got filled with heady mixed offerings, capping some of the bottles of bubbly gone flat that I opened in haste, thinking they would make for quite the cocktail of words and images.

While I wait to ring the bell on that last call, I’ll just take a step back, as a rehearsal for tomorrow … watch the sun set on the mountain. I’ll just bask in the light a little more, seeing it for its alchemy, for the ways in which it has turned the fleck of every day into the solid gold bar of a year … at least in memory.

Mt. Tamalpais, December 19, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from the path along Corte Madera Creek, Greenbrae

It was a gorgeous afternoon by the Corte Madera Creek. A lot of people of all ages, and ambulatory abilities, and many more dogs, were all out there trying to soak up the brilliant sunshine that came to us today seemingly unfiltered and with such grace and gentleness, even as the temperature wielded a cutting edge in the shadier spots.

On a day like this, during winter’s miserly ways with light, and in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy that left so many of us numb and wordless, the sight of the same people on the sunlit path, the same mischievous dogs nipping at ankles, and some of the same walkers still oblivious to all around them as they talk and text on their phones, was more than a welcome sight for me. I felt as if I wanted to hug each and everyone of them and thank them for their presence.

As I walked and said hello to the many people I now know from sight, but still not by name, I thought about the small changes my friends and I are trying to make so that we can move not just ourselves from this place of helplessness, but perhaps nudge the tide of darkness so that love and light can get through, even if only one trickling good deed at a time for now.

Sally Kuhlman of Sally Around the Bay wrote about “paying it forward 27+ times,” because, as she points out, sharing one’s opinion is not necessarily a way to improve the situation.  Tamara Holland, another Marin blogger and artist, and post-conviction death penalty lawyer, wrote a post in which she questions the notion of divine underpinning in human affairs and urges for more love and collaboration as the truly human, and “grownup” way, to move forward and make the world a better place.

Indeed, personal opinions or speculations about divine purposes may make us feel better temporarily, but, by themselves, they do not make for a better world. So I urge you to follow whatever plan you can make to pay it forward, to exercise kindness in whatever way you can.  Check out the hashtags #20acts, #26acts, #27acts on Twitter to see how others are bringing acts of kindness to brighten to world again.

Mt. Tamalpais, November 30, 2012

Mt. Tam still unglimsable, even with a break in the storm, along the Corte Madera Creek in Kentfield

A potted plant, a big one, fell over in the garden in the middle of the night. The winds must have snared the spindly branches of the laurel that has been calling the pot home for years, turning it over to play a bit of soccer with it, before shoving the whole deal down some steps, shattering the pot into many pieces. Other than that, all looks intact in the garden and with the roof, if a little worse for wear from a stormy night.

Midday I was out and about. Went to see my cardiologist, just to check in to make sure that if nothing else, at least my cardiovascular system is set to train for an endurance bike ride down the road. Turns out that my cardiologist is also an avid cyclist. He gave me the all clear and set my mind at ease about some of those high heart rate readings I’ve been getting climbing hills on the new bike.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that I should take to my new training plans as this storm is taking to our little corner of the world…. Oddly enough, thanks to the fierce winds and the downpours I am forced to sit still, to savor the recovery from the last couple of weeks of overdoing it as I was trying to find that (to me) elusive golden mean. Much like I had to learn to go with that one picture of Mt. Tam every day here, regardless what I thought of it, whether the image was good enough or true enough or impressive enough, well, I am going to have to learn to train for an athletic performance not as a dress rehearsal every time, but as a simple and already fully contained step day in and day out. A step on a journey, and not necessarily on the one and only road to the finish line…. In other words, just for the sheer joy of it.

Mt. Tamalpais, November 27, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed through gathering clouds

Apparently there is a series of storms lined up, ready to dump some 7 inches of rain on us in the next few days. It supposed to start full up tomorrow, so today was one of those transitional patterns in which we get treated to a bit of everything, from sudden gusts of cold wind to glorious sunshine, to clouds laced with that ominous tinge and blue skies in between.

I went out for a bike ride, back and forth on the same old bike path along the Corte Madera Creek and past the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, trying to figure out how to do interval training. It wasn’t a boring ride visually, thanks to the changing weather every few hundred feet or so. I covered the same 4-mile loop nearly five times, so I got some decent mileage, while taking in the same scenery as if painted by different artists who have their own ideas abut the power of light to bring the best of landscape into sharp relief. Since I am to post only a single picture a day, I chose none of the ones I captured of Mt. Tam along the ride. I’ll leave that gallery to your imaginations….

Mt. Tamalpais, November 18, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed as a blue speck in the distance and through the bike

Yes, that is my bike on a bench, with a shoe seemingly at rest on the back of it. It’s not at rest. It’s still in the pedal, clipped in.

Mt. Tam didn’t loom large in my landscape today, even as I rode around in plain sight of it. In the morning, I took off for a ride with a friend, and easy cruise around, only to have that cut short by a flat tire. I still haven’t gathered a repair kit for this new bike, so I did the next best thing: called the spouse for a ride to the bike shop.

At the bike shop it was obvious what caused my flat. A staple, like a tiny sword, impaled itself in a space between the knobs of the tire, puncturing the tube. The guys at the shop changed the flat in less time that it would have taken me to release the brake, let alone deal with the derailleur.

And so I was on the road again, lapping up the miles, taking in the wind, like a dog with its head out the car window, not a care in the world. The sun that graced us this morning with light and a little heat decided to retreat slowly behind gathering clouds, some even ominous looking, but I wasn’t about to stop riding. Not just yet. Taking to bike paths around the neighborhood, I thought I would practice my riding skills with the cleats.

I was especially proud of having adjusted one of my cleats last night, getting the angle just right, or so I thought. On previous rides, my efforts with that cleat were mixed, sometimes the shoe sticking nicely, sometimes too much, but always seemingly at an angle. So there I was, both feet clipped in, cruising along, back and forth. At times, I would practice getting one foot or another free as I went along. It felt like I was making progress.

Until there was that moment, somewhere near San Quentin under increasingly cloudy skies and through colder winds, when my left shoe wouldn’t budge. The harder I tried to unclip, the more it set itself in. That is, I could see, once I got off the bike and took my foot out of the shoe and stood awkwardly trying to peer at the pedal with the shoe on it, all the while leaning over the bike with one foot in socks, that the screws were loose, but the cleat was snugly in the pedal grips.

And so  gingerly I got my left foot back into the stuck shoe, got myself on the bike, and then pedaled some 2 miles carefully over to Niven Park in Greenbrae, from where I called the spouse to come and rescue me and bring me some shoes.

It may look like the biking gods were not smiling on me today, but I feel the opposite is the case. Seems to me they were generous with trouble in safe places, so that I could learn. They were especially generous with the stuck pedal, because that has been a huge nightmare for me, a big stumbling block to moving on to the road properly shod for speed and safety. So I am here to say that I am truly grateful for all these mishaps that couldn’t happen in better circumstances.

Mt. Tamalpais, November 6, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed in a haze with my voting station clearly in focus

Haze hangs over the mountain on this otherwise sunny day. The temperatures have already reached the 80s, at least that’s what my car’s gauge told me. That it’s hazy on the horizon is an apt visual for today, as so many of us are heading out to vote and wait to see the results.

There were no lines at my voting station, just a steady stream of people coming and going, all upbeat and excited to be there, at least the group into which I ran. I am going to spend the rest of the daylight hours outside as much as possible, away from the news and gurgling stream of pundits. Then, tonight, when I turn on the TV, I suppose, between the analyses, there will be the onslaught of new ads replacing the political appeals with ones urging us to get shopping for Christmas. In this, politics is business as usual, for no matter who wins at the polls, the business of business will go on.

Still, if you can, get out there and vote!

Mt. Tamlapais, November 4, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from the Corte Madera Creek bike path (with bike on path)

With another gloriously bright, sunny, and warm day bursting upon us as if summer were that relative who had long overstayed even a most welcome visit, I could hardly wait to go ride my bike some more. My bright (and fancy) new bike, the Bianchi Zurigo 2012. My first “grown-up” bike with the (to me) serious shifting for smooth speed uphill, downhill, and in between. A bike with a shifter that ought to be pedaled with feet shod in “grown-up” biking shoes … but more about that later.

So, shortly after noon, out I went, down the hill and pedaling across a busy intersection, heading toward the quieter bike path for some laps and an eventual meander toward a coffee shop for refueling. I did not plan on a big ride or any climbs; just wanted to spin around and skirt the waterways in the sun. No sooner did I round the corner behind the Bon Air Shopping Center that I felt the road awfully bumpy suddenly. Ah, I thought, this is what a flat tire feels like in the middle of a ride. And sure enough, my rear tire was as flat as a pancake, or, to be more exact, as flat as a French crêpe.

I don’t have a repair kit yet for this bike, nor have I ever changed a tube on a rear tire before, so I called the spouse. He who drove me to 3 Ring Cycles in San Anselmo, where Brad McKenzie swapped out the punctured tube for a new one in the space of a brief conversation we had, and within minutes I was ready to ride again.

The spouse drove home, and I set out on the bike through San Anselmo, Ross, and Larkspur, lapping up the sunshine and the feel of the road as I rolled on under the canopy of trees still only laced at the edges with fall foliage. Emboldened by the apparent ease of the ride, once I arrived on the bike path, I decided to get adventurous and start clipping at least one “grown-up bike shoe. Back and forth I went on the flat part, with one foot firmly clipped in, savoring the difference in what it takes to pedal between the two sides. For now, my bike has reversible pedals, so I can use them with biking shoes and regular shoes.

Then, on a whim that might have had a touch too much testosterone in it, I decided to climb the short, but steep, hill at the end of the path at S. Eliseo Road, with one foot still snugly clipped in. Half way up I seem to have run out of that testosterone and felt I should turn around and go down, just to be safe. As I started to turn, I saw a car coming down the hill with the intent to turn left into my path, and, behind me, there was another cyclist climbing, so I corrected my course back to straight up and also gripped the brakes a little too strong, planning to stop. And stop I did. My left leg reached the ground way too close to the bike, but my right one wouldn’t unclip fast enough, and there I was, suddenly, fallen over on my right side, draped over the curb, with the bike over me. Even as I was falling, though, a part of me was relaxing as with a sigh of relief over that first dreaded fall with the cleats.

I skinned my knee, but not too badly. The seat of my bike also got “skinned.” It now sports a white spot where the black leather got scrapped off by the road. The shiny little “hubcap” at the end of the handlebar also got scratched up and blackened. As for my ego, that was spared the proverbial bruising, as no one seemed to have witnessed the fall, or if they did, they felt no need to come over and talk to me.

I got back on the bike immediately and continued riding; back down this time. Back on the flats, I went to work with clipping in and out of the pedal with one foot along the way for the next half hour.  Now that the dreaded first marks on the bike (like those first scratches on a new car) are out of the way and now that I have the scrapes on my knee from that first fall in cleats at stops, riding my new bike, even with that new way with cleats, should come as easily as (well) riding a bike….

Mt. Tamlapais, September 21, 2012

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. Tamalpais, September 2012

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