dreaming in the shadows of the Sleeping Maiden

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Mt. Tamalpais, December 12, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from Bon Air Rd. in Greenbrae around the time of a king tide

On my way back from yoga class, I stopped along Bon Air Road in Greenbrae to try and capture an image of Mt. Tam with this year’s huge king tides as its base. All over Marin where tides reach, they outdid themselves, spilling inland not just by slow inch but also fast feet. The water in the picture is not the widened creek; it is the marshland turned lake. The creek’s wide flow is beyond the berm that’s visible past the wooden bridge to which the road lies mostly under water.

I went to yoga class this morning because a friend told me this would be a special class, what with the date being 12/12/12. I’ve been to many, many yoga classes in my life, some on other special dates and days, so I wasn’t expecting much, except, well, a yoga class… And nothing much out of the ordinary came for me from the special class, at least not during the time I spent going in and out of the poses I haven’t practiced in a long time, including a delightfully effortless headstand. But after the class, and after I walked around the flooded paths by Bon Air, I had a little “king” tide of my own, with a flooding of emotions, suddenly and is if out of nowhere.

And though I thought about going for a fast bike ride, seeing how the sun kept hanging around today, with that yoga-driven flood of emotions, I remembered, with deepening gratitude, all the ways in which yoga anchored me, even as it set me free to go with the flow….

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, September 12, 2012

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. Tamalpais, August 7, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from the Corte Madera Creek path in Kentfield

I lost a lot of hours today to small chores, big worries, and a few mindless rounds of Minesweeper on the computer. Every once in a while I have a day like this. Days when knowing that we are at the mercy of things, events, and, of course, people beyond our control somehow just won’t do the trick. By trick I mean the letting go and just going with it all. Most days I know how to ride the crests of this free-floating anxiety, but when I am short on sleep or have aches and pains, my trusty boat springs a leak and I am bailing the stuff out of it as fast as I can.

I finally ditched the whole boat, so to speak, around 6 o’clock, when I decided to go for a bike ride. The weather cooled by then, and, in a way, so did I. This ride was going to be all fun, with no particular course set, just like the course of those anxieties that bedeviled me earlier.  A brief spin around the Corte Madera Creek bike path in Greenbrae and then I was going up the South Eliseo hill, a short climb, but for me still a challenge because of the grade. Then off I went circling a smaller hilly street, gaining speed and confidence with each circle I made.

At one point in my loops a cute Mini Cooper pulled out of a driveway and to my delight it was one of my Twitter friends behind the wheel. It still amazes me how many people I have met through Twitter first, only to find out that we are practically neighbors.

After I was done with my mini-hill repeats I took off along the bike path in Kentfield. The light by this time was almost baroque. From here, I took a few loops around Magnolia Avenue then off I went along Woodland Drive in Kent/Woodlands, drinking in the last of the sun’s gold served in the balmy cup of winds.

Along the way tonight, I met a lot of other cyclists. We exchanged looks as if we were all in on a big secret. And I suppose we are…

Mt. Tamalpais, July 29, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in Kentfield

If had been wishing for that cocoon of suspended space that is often at the heart of the silence that is usually called “blessed,” today brought a gentle patch of it. Though the morning, from what I remember, was gray and chilly, the rest of the day kept getting warmer, even as the usual sounds of the neighborhoods seemed to become increasingly muffled as the day went on. As if the sole purpose of this Sunday unfolding was to eclipse sound with light.

Late in the afternoon I took a bike ride along the path by the Corte Madera Creek. This was the only hour of the day during which I did not have that sense of suspension, as if floating above the din of the world. I was hoping that the ride would shake out of me the words that could paint a picture of that feeling, a picture that could complement a photo of Mt. Tam seemingly enjoying her solitude … but it wasn’t going to happen. My imagination, too, was suspended and muffled in the dusty hammock of the late July Sunday afternoon.

Then, when I turned to books for inspiration, I found that Jane Hirshfield has already written what I wanted to say here today:

Dog and Bear

The air this morning,
blowing between fog and drizzle,

is like a white dog in the snow
who scents a white bear in the snow
who is not there.

Deeper than seeing.,
deeper than hearing,
they stand and glare, one at the other.

So many listen lost, in every weather.

The mind has mountains,
Hopkins wrote, against his sadness.

The dog and the bear at bay, that day.

[from The Place That Inhabits Us: Poems of the San Francisco Bay Watershed – selected by Sixteen Rivers Press]

Self-portrait with Mt. Tam in the background – Kentfield, sometime in late June, 2012

At some point, even in the span of only a few days, there is that moment of dread that stops you in your tracks:

There you are, having missed them when they were away, it seems forever, then when you are there with them, time seemingly having stopped or stuck in another kind of forever, you suddenly miss being away and that sweet sense, so full of anticipation, that was missing them back when they seemed so far away…

And so it goes.

Mt. Tam glimpsed from the bench by the entrance to Woodlands Cafe, Kentfield

It was a bright June morning, promising plenty of light and heat. The kind of early summer morning when all things seem possible, especially when viewed from the shelter of a generous overhang.

This here, however imperfect it may be, is one way to hold on, if not exactly to all the possibilities themselves (for who can contain them?) at least to remembering that each moment, transitory as it is, is as solid as that mountain, in its bounty of offerings of the present….

Mt. Tam glimpsed from the Kentfield portion of the Corte Madera Creek path in high winds

There was no shelter from the wind anywhere along the path by the creek this afternoon. Everywhere I turned, there were ruffles in every color, form, and texture — from the mist of clouds to the agitated waters and the grasses and plenty-leaved trees in between. As if this summer’s imperative for fashion has been one for curves.