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Creek Running North

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September 13, 2004

A note from out there

I returned to that section of trail in Briones yesterday, bringing Becky and Matthew along for company. I don't know which was a deeper blue: the cloudless sky, or the tail of that Skilton's skink we saw diving beneath the leaf litter. A small, dead gopher snake - mouth open as if shouting - lay mid-trail on our way out. Our hike was bracketed by reptiles.

In between were sandwiches, sweat, slipping on the decomposing soil of the fire-road's steep pitches. We reached the bench where I sat last weekend before turning around, watched the fog spill over the Oakland hills toward us, a cresting wave that never reached the bottom of the hill. Instead of turning back from the bench like I did last week, we went on: hiking 5.75 miles, with about 2300 feet of cumulative elevation gain, and making an afternoon of it. I am sunburned.

A juvenile golden eagle flashed its near-translucent underwing spots at us.

In the forest, there were four species of oak growing together - not all that common a thing in the live-oak dominated Coast Ranges. Matthew and I argued taxonomy, neither of us remembering what the hell we were talking about. He plucked a leaf of what he said was a Quercus kellogii, which name I had (mistakenly) been using for the blue oaks. He handed me the leaf for later keying. I put it in my wallet, folded like a five-spot, and forgot all about it.

This morning I woke to a flurry of angry email from people who theoretically work together with common ideals and goals. There's nothing like getting to 10:30 Monday morning and longing for the weekend. Activism attracts people who are steadfastly committed to doing good in the world. It also attracts self-important, pompous jerks. There is a not-inconsiderable overlap between those two categories. I sit and try to get work done and am beset by people trying to drag me into the fray. By 11:30, I need another walk.

At the coffee shop two blocks away, I reach for my wallet and find it. It is dry and smooth, with neat creases. It smells of the woods.

Posted by Chris Clarke at September 13, 2004 12:48 PM TrackBack URL for this entry:

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decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs


...what's better than a five spot? the smell of the woods when you're in the city!

Posted by: Anne at September 21, 2004 09:12 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs