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