Mother Nature rules.
The Earth is her kingdom.
And we are merely in the way.
In the midst of our 24-hour days and our 365 days a year, however, simply being human sometimes means quietly co-existing until the next show of force, the next ultimatum, the next Who's on First, the next declaration of Marshall Law, the next "I'm sorry, what did you say?" Waiting for it...and dodging it, if possible.
Tornado - Earthquake - Tsunami
Hurricane - Wildfire - Monsoon
Avalanche - Heat Wave - Blizzard
Cyclone - Hail Storm - Drought
Yes, Planet Earth is a lovely place to live, but at its core lurks a violent doppelgänger soul. And when Mamacita decides to put her foot down our man-made, human-centric concerns can suddenly fade to almost trivial: the inventions and technologies, our worries and wants and supposed needs, the miracle of flight and with it our departures and arrivals, the 21st Century mantra "Moving at the Speed of Business".
How's this for speed?
Shut it down!
And so she did.
Ours, really, as I had hiking buddies for the trek, and a strenuous, sweaty one it was. A foursome, plus one dog (a doggone tired dog, after a while): we started at Rodeo Beach, the kick-off point for The Loop, walked up Coast Trail to Wolf Ridge, then made our way behind the the top of the hill to the Miwok Trail, where normally we would hang a right and descend to the lagoon and beach. But normal wasn't gonna cut it for me, so instead we turned left and climbed some more: up, up, up the Miwok to the junction with the Bobcat Trail. Total elevation gain from sea level was 1020 feet, and it was worth every step. I had never hiked the extended route before and was smitten, in-between gasping for breath, with the views to Tennessee Valley, Tiburon, Mill Valley, Mount Tamalpais and the North Bay. As always, the juxtaposition of urban space so close to such wide (and wild) open space left me pleased to find myself exactly here/there.
I am happy to report (and even happier to witness) that the annual parade of wildflowers is hitting its stride in full force; blooms are everywhere you look. They burst in single, isolated explosions or pepper entire hillsides. We must have walked by two dozen different species on our hike, at least one of which I've never before seen.
The outing was lovely, a damn fine workout, and for me well-needed. The temperature in San Francisco hit 70 degrees, which means the protected valleys of Marin were probably warmer still.
It was perfect, in fact; and I encourage you to get out there and walk your own neck of the woods. Just open the door and step outside. Do it now, while the land glistens with the memory of spring rain, while wildflowers poke their technicolor heads skyward, and trees push new green growth from their awakening silhouettes. You'll be rewarded with a glimpse into the benevolent side of Earth's two-faced, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde mistress: Mother Nature. The side that'll make you almost forget her darker persona.
Until she decides otherwise, that is.
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The following photos were taken on Sunday April 18, 2010 in the Marin Headlands. More specifically, they were shot on the Coast, Wolf Ridge, Miwok and Bobcat Trails during a 7-mile/3.5-hour loop hike from Rodeo Beach. Unfortunately my camera didn't - or couldn't - capture them all, but hopefully the pictures translate.
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To the people of Europe who are dealing with the fallout from a volcano almost 1200 miles away, and to the travelers worldwide who, due to said volcano, have become stranded for over five days now, well...I wish you a speedy return to clear skies and home, wherever that may be. In lieu of a halt to the eruption - which could happen, but probably won't any time soon - I hope for a much needed change in the winds.
To the people of Iceland, may your fiery, frozen world settle down just a bit. I know that flash floods and huge slabs of ice falling from the sky, not to mention the toxicity of volcanic ash, all pose a serious threats to livestock, to agriculture, and to people. Lord knows you could use a break in the action. We all could: Haiti, China, Indonesia and Mexico, to name but a recent, alarming few.
Oh, and Iceland? When you get that break, when you have the time, please tell us all how to pronounce the name of that damn volcano!
Peter J. Palmer