10 June 2021:  Coyote Peak

During my seven years in San Jose, before retiring from employment, then immediately getting married, then quickly moving to Stockholm, I kept in shape by hiking most mornings before I went to work. My favorite hike was to Coyote Peak, two miles from the trail head with about 1,000 feet of elevation change. At my best time, I could do the four miles in around 35 minutes. That was around 20 years ago.

This is now.

At the trail head was  a warm greeting placed by the Park Rangers:

The objective, seen from the trail, around 4/10 of the way there.

I walked slowly, rhythmically, as in a march. My breathing matched each step. I stopped no more than ten times, briefly, to recover sufficiently to maintain the rhythm. I’m not sure how long it took to reach the peak, but it had to be at least an hour.

I was not in a hurry, as I was in the past. I could let my attention wander more fully without being concerned that I might lose some momentum.

I saw that the poison oak which usually is camouflaged among other green plants, was turning red as it should, in order to warn the unwary:

I saw cattle grazing behind a protective fence:

The slanting morning sunlight revealed that the grasses are always covered by the webs of spiders:

The familiar hillside oaks seemed perfect to me:

As I approached a familiar bend in the path near the summit I saw a stand of elderberry bushes in bloom. The are called fläder in Swedish, favorite soft drink flavor.

And then, the summit:

I have sat many times on this bench. I perceive the round brown hills of the San Francisco Bay Area to be pleasantly female in aspect. A ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountain dominates the Western Sky.

I have written many poems from the vantage point. Here’s one:

One thousand feet I hike uphill
With purpose undeterred to sit.
The bench stands by Nature’s spoor.
I rest amidst lush greenery.

I think therefore I think I am.
These thistles, foxtails do not think
Yet they seem even realer
Than I the interloper here.

These paltry words will write themselves
In hope of capturing this once.
And then I’ll wander back to home
As they in silent knowledge stay.

These spiky, rustling weeds are mute
But tell of wordless mysteries,
Of hidden forces spinning green
Relentless creatures in the hills.

While we imagine that
We are the inheritors
Of the Earth.

The Final Journal Entry, here: https://wp.me/pcZSnC-9u

3 June 2021: Two days, two friends, one person

I and my friend and former colleague from Merritt Hospital days did not, in fact, discuss “healthcare.” (The reference for this statement is found in the last paragraph of the previous journal entry).

Tim, I learned through our rapid and extensive conversation, was a history major for his undergraduate degree. I avoided history until after I retired, then dived deeply into selected parts of world history.

Much of the discussion touched on world conflicts and we seemed to agree that we are in ‘world war three’ now, one that is not localized but distributed in many places around the world, and not confined solely to armed warfare. On another front, we do agree that Mother Nature will win humanity’s assault upon the earth. I referred Tim to a relevant book I am carrying with me, containing many marginal notes, exclamations and under-linings: Straw Dogs, by John Gray.

I always have a stimulating conversation with Tim McMurdo. I asserted to him we need to meet once per year to charge my batteries.

That was yesterday. Today I visited a friend I first encountered in July 1995, Bernal Hill, part of Santa Teresa County Park in San Jose (Santa Clara County).

I haven’t performed any exercise for too long, certainly since early May this year when I left Sweden for this long visit to the USA. Before that, long walks with Eva and some mild gardening chores were the extent of my physical exertions. The Gym I visited regularly, until Covid appeared, I haven’t visited since then.

So, it was with mild trepidation that I addressed the three short but steep inclines of the 1.6-mile path to the summit, going slowly with two walking sticks I borrowed from Ken.

The first incline is the steepest (and harder to descend than to ascend):

Looking up from the trail head—Looking back—Looking down. Really steep.

After the first grade, the path winds around a stand of trees and bushes, giving a brief respite from the hot sun. I saw evidence that California scrub-jays still live here.

The flowers were not profuse, but were everywhere: poppies, a purple flower I can’t identify, wild mustard, white morning glories, dandelion and false dandelion, and others.

The larger picture:

After negotiating the three steep parts, with the noise of the city finally out of range of hearing, my objective came into view, the Blue Oaks circling the summit:

I reckon my pace from the beginning was just about one stride per second, but around only 18” per step. As I continued the last, brief uphill, under the shade of the oaks, even this pace seemed a bit rapid, but I made it, and it was all downhill afterward.

In the distance is Coyote peak which I have visited uncountable times. It was my morning exercise several times per week before going to work. I will visit the peak at least once before I move on to the next leg of my journey.

These hills nourished me at a time when I needed such nourishment. I wrote about it:

Days in the hills

I will be absent here for a few days while I travel and visit in the Great Central Valley, and in Berkeley.

Foe the next journal entry: GO HERE

Stay tuned.