I usually hike the Flag Hill Trail at Sunol Regional Park on my birthday (December 31), but automotive woes nixed that possibility yesterday. I was lucky to be able to go today.
When you’re at the top of Flag Hill, you’re so high up that you look down on hawks in flight. The air was so still and quiet–all I heard were small birds twittering and cows lowing in the distance (until an airplane flew overhead). After the parched brown of this dry summer and fall, all the green everywhere was downright intoxicating. A great way to begin the new year.
Today I visited the UC Botanical Garden for the first time ever. With my friends Lisa and Mark, I walked through the Asian, Central American, and Mediterranean sections. After all the rain we’ve had, the place was bursting with life. We saw newts swim to the surface of the Japanese reflecting pool to take a quick breath and dive again; a huge mass of ladybugs boiling over near a creek; and oodles of mushrooms bubbling up everywhere.
But my favorite was the Californian section. I love the colors and sculptural quality of madrones, manzanitas, and coast live oaks, and the California garden was full of them. Lichens and moss were all over the trees, adding color and texture everywhere. We saw oaks that seemed to be dancing with each other. Another reminder of how grateful I am to live in California.
We are so lucky to have a grove of 150-year-old redwoods right here in Oakland. Redwood forests are always amazing, but after heavy rains, they’re downright magical: mushrooms, mushrooms of all shapes, sizes, and colors pop up everywhere; the creeks are full, active, and audible; and all the wet mosses and ferns that grow under the giant trees seem to glow a special kind of green after a rainfall.
I went hiking in the redwood forest today with my dear friend Fay. I took photos of some favorite mushrooms, the rushing creek, the redwoods, and a special photo of Fay taking a photo.
Here’s the great thing about being a grown-up and having old-ish kids: When there’s a full moon, and you want to hike the ridge trail under it, and nobody wants to come, you can just blow them all off and go anyway.
Favorite trees and familiar stretches of trail take on a magical quality at night. I wore pants and a cotton top, but I could have comfortably gone hiking in shorts. The air was soft and warm, the moonlight bright enough to read by. Oh, California! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways….
Its curling tentacles grow about a foot longer each day, as it produces more leaves and more ginormous yellow blooms. I grew it from a huge seed given to me by a local gardener. Traditionally grown in Mexico and parts of South America, this squash isn’t something you can buy at Safeway. I’m told the fruits can grow to three feet in length, though I wouldn’t know, as my plant has only produced (abundant) male flowers thus far. I love the way it looks like a world unto itself.
I couldn’t fit the whole plant in the frame of a single photo, but here’s an aerial view from the second floor:
Today is my birthday. I am so grateful to have lived this year, and to be here to welcome another year. This life really is a beautiful, mysterious thing.
I enjoyed hiking in my favorite East Bay park–Sunol–with Pauline today. Expansive vistas of rolling hills, quiet, the sweet scent of fallen leaves, breezes, and a magical combination of mistiness and sunlight.
My first ever 365-day project. I loved having a frame every day for thinking about what I was grateful for. Some days I had to choose among many options; other days, I had to really think and consider. Always a valuable exercise. Even if crummy internet connectivity or extreme tiredness prevented me from posting on a given day, daily thinking about gratitude became an essential and welcome part of 2013 for me, and I managed eventually to post something for every day.
The blog had an unexpected, positive feedback effect on my life. If I wrote for a few days about things I considered relatively mundane, I would make an effort to go somewhere beautiful or do something specialish to keep it interesting.