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.
Posts tagged Larkspur
For the last few days the pictures of Mt. Tam that I have posted show a range of blue peaks that’s about to fade into ever paler hues and lose all definition in the process. Mt. Tam is hardly blue, but by the time I get around to taking that picture, most days, the air has filled with particles that like to perform their own magic Photoshop tricks in living color.
On the other hand, taking pictures of the mountain late in the afternoon at this time of the year is quite appropriate for the season of this project as well. I am in the last quarter of it, with the sun setting on it within view, so to speak….
What? Were you expecting another light-filled insight or some pretty poetry? Got nothing of that wordy sort today. Instead, my head is filled with cheap thrills … well, not so cheap, considering the price tag on the wheels that had me going after the buzz today.
With the folks in my household still asleep, long after the sun had come up and minced the fog into thin air, I set out on my trusty old hybrid bike for a meander. Eventually, my wheels took me to downtown San Anselmo, where I was going to stop for coffee, but instead stopped at 3 Ring Cycles, where I could not resist the offer to test ride a Bianchi Infinito. And so, for the next leg of my meanderings, I found myself rolling through Fairfax and then down (well, actually up at this stage) ever so lightly on Sir Francis Drake Blvd., headed for White’s Hill. And what a thrill to feel as if my legs have suddenly been infused with speed….
Some day, I hope to be hoisting such a light carbon bike atop the car, ready to go off further afield in search of new terrain. Until then, the memory of the easy ride will have to persist as much in my mind as in my legs. The ride back home from San Anselmo on my hybrid maybe wasn’t as thrilling as rolling fast on the red Bianchi, but it was still delightful enough to leave me deeply grateful for so many things, from the moments of health I am enjoying to the gorgeous and peaceful surroundings we here in Marin call home.
He suggested walking the dog by the creek. I told him I’d rather go on the path in Larkspur. Not because I prefer that path, but I thought of all the pictures I have posted here so far, morning, noon, and night, from the path along the Corte Madera Creek. It’s one of the easiest places from which to aim the camera, any camera, however haphazardly, and come away with a decent shot of Mt. Tam. You don’t even need Photoshop or an Instagram filter to add anything “picturesque” or faux painterly to make a visual point.
So we took the dog to Larkspur. The spouse was looking forward to picking blackberries that grow in profusion along the path through the town. I was looking forward to picking the perfect spot from which to glimpse the peaks of Mt. Tam anew. The dog, as far as we could tell, she was looking forward to that walk that didn’t materialize until very late in the afternoon. But by that time, the sun, which had forsaken us yesterday, was back in the business of summer.
The path was one busy place. Little dogs, big dogs, leashed and unleashed. Kids running around. Kids on bikes. Little kids and big kids. I mean the “kids” in their forties sporting bright Spandex, the ones who had probably just made the descent over the Camino Alto hill and now were still pedaling away on the residual adrenaline.
I took a few pictures of the peaks, gently popping over trees or gabled roofs or peeking through palm trees. All pretty pictures. Unlike the one I ended up selecting for today’s post. Turns out that even though summer’s back, my mood is still slightly winterized from yesterday’s cool spell. But it’s OK; it’s Sunday. I can have a day off from all that cheer and hang back a little longer in the shadows of the alley. It’s not as if I had lost sight of the mountain, is it?
Mt. Tam’s peaks are barely visible in the frame of trees on the distant ridge in Larkspur. I snapped this one an angle of the Mt. Tam Racquet Club stopped me in my tracks, but I wasn’t quite able to capture its depth in this picture.
Seems to me, the club has been here for as long as we lived in the area. There is no “about” page on the club’s site to help fill in the history it might have had. Still, its presence has been a constant in more was than just physical, so to speak. We joined maybe 6 or 7 years ago. Some years we went a lot. Others, well, we just paid our monthly membership dues.
We don’t play tennis, which is the primary draw of this club. We don’t pay for that privilege either, having opted for a fitness and pool membership only. Which has been plenty, since the club offers a huge variety of fitness classes, from lively Zumba to the mellowest of yoga, as well as classes tailored for seniors with brittle bones. But I don’t want to sound like some lame marketing brochure.
The truth is that the club has been there for me, like the welcoming home of a favorite relative, where you are always welcome and where, more importantly, the familiar breeds content … yes, a form of happiness that comes from steadiness. I’ve been the prodigal fitness buff at times, going off to join a couple of trendy new places that came and went through the years, but I always return to Mt. Tam Racquet Club … and I am always welcome there, it seems, by the same staff, too!
The club has never been flashy or trendy. And yet, it has covered the latest in fitness and health tips for its members. The fact that most of its health and fitness staff has been there for as long as I have been a member says something about the culture of the place. As does the fact that one often sees parents and their teen-aged children work out side by side. The same teen-aged children that used to splash in the pools as kids.
I remember going to a lecture on nutrition a couple of years ago and talking to an older woman as we were waiting for the speaker to start. She told me that she had been recently widowed and that she was devastated. She said that the club has been a safe heaven, a godsend that has helped her stay connected. I told her about my broken ankle and the extra 50 pounds I carried on my frame before we joined and how the yoga classes helped me connect to the body lost within the body I grew around it.
Yes, that is the peak of Mt. Tam, just above the flag held so high up by the old guy and straight through the goal post from Redwood High School’s float…. There was a lot of cheering from the young and old camped along the sidewalks, some of them cozily ensconced on small raffia loveseats with picnic baskets open at the feet. And there were a lot of happy kids running around angling for candy flying from the floats. And there were the dogs too, very well-behaved dogs, along the route of the 4th of July Larkspur/Corte Madera parade.
I biked to Fairfax earlier in the day. I took off from around Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, so the ride was about 5 miles or so. In Fairfax, I stopped for a spot of lunch at the Humming Bird Café, which serves Cajun food and takes only cash for payment. I had a big bowl of gumbo, even though it was hot outside. I was hungry, and maybe not just for food.
Back on the road, I kept cycling, not wanting the ride to end. So I kept going, past where I parked the car across from Marin General Hospital. I pedaled unto Larkspur, then Corte Madera, then back to Larkspur, taking the side trip along the path that intersects Tamal Vista. At the end of the path where it meets Tamal Vista, there are great views to be had of Mt. Tam in just about any season or weather.
When I dismounted from the bike to take the picture, I was amazed to see how empty the path was all the way past the shelter of trees back in Larkspur. It was hot, sure, and it was the middle of the day, but I’ve seen people out in much warmer weather and event a high noon.
I got back on my bike, and for a while, I seemed to be the only person in the world, a world that was suddenly filled with the shimmer of heat and the kaleidoscopic scents from wild fennel, hay with memories of grass, and that of jasmine … or was that just an echo of my having listened to Summer Breeze blowing through the jasmine in the mind of Seals & Crofts back from 1972?
What this picture can’t carry across the screen for your pleasure is the scent of the lavender in this morning’s mild breeze. The purest of organic essential oils or the priciest designer sachets could not capture or contain the gentle tap of that scent on the senses.
This morning follows the latest sunset of the year, which might explain why it seemed to me that we had such glorious light lollygagging all over Marin last night, turning the Corte Madera Creek into a river of gold and adjusting the shades of green relentlessly on the hills to play up streaks of yellow and tease out new shades of bronze, as well as igniting the dry grass into sparks of light in the wind.
With all that freshness and brand new brightness of the morning and its sweet-scented promise of so much more of this to come, you’d think I’d wait at least into the afternoon to select the definitive picture and then write about the day that was in this post. Instead, I decided to keep the morning fresh for posterity – well, for the day, in Internet time – even if it means that as far as living in the shadow of the Sleeping Maiden is concerned here, I am done for the day.
Which also means that I can now go out and live it up, without having to frame any of it in pictures or words….
Today’s view of the mountain is courtesy of Celia Graterol, who captured the peaks on a recent ride along the much-loved and very photogenic Larkspur bike path that links Corte Madera and Larkspur together, providing plenty of opportunities for pedestrians, bikers, skateboarders, and other amblers to get around some of Marin’s most picturesque neighborhoods without getting into a car.
I am writing this post, sitting at the dinner table with Celia and Sally Kuhlman slightly under the influence of the most aromatic roasted chicken mingled with that of sauteing Brussels sprouts, all this laced with the more delicate hint of roasted potatoes, getting hungrier by the minute. Poncho, the dog, has already sampled some of the fare we are bout to share and he is breathing heavily in approval.
They are there, the peaks of Mt. Tam, even if barely visible above the line of trees and the slip of fog. Of course they are, always in view, even from the shelter of Emporio Rulli in Larkspur, the place of choice for morning coffee and breakfast pastries for my friends from New York.
Maybe Mt. Tam is getting shortchanged in my post today, but there is my increased sense of appreciation of Larkspur as seen through the eyes of my visitors. That is one delightful aspect of having guests: rediscovering one’s own place. It’s almost as good as travel, without the hassles of that enterprise.
Tonight we are heading out of the range of Mt. Tam. Our destination is The French Laundry in the wine country … a gastronomic mountain of its own.