Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter light

Looking south on Mountain House, this is the view.

To avoid the 101 corridor (flat and rolling) between Cloverdale and Hopland, you tack west into substantial hills. Tall, anonymous, plentiful.

Neither does Mountain House, picking up at the summit of Highway 128, take the path of least resistance. That would usually follow creeks and lesser terrain. Instead it descends and climbs, cheerfully, repeatedly, avoiding property lines while bisecting lots of minor hills.

On the plus side, the brief descents and slow stints of climbing make for plenty of time to look around. Oak trees, some with their leaves and many without, dark conifer forests in the distance, creeks running noisily through pastures. Rough pavement with few cars and fewer houses.

It's starting to feel more like home.

In San Anselmo, the first night, I woke up three times. Not with nightmares, which have characters and plot. But with a generalized panic about work, sure I'd forgotten something or left an important task undone. I'd be hunted down and publicly shamed before they asked for my badge.

Last night, in the motel in Healdsburg it was stomach trouble. Kind of my fault for not checking every ingredient on the menu, even dessert. Woke up at 3, couldn't get back to sleep. Lay there thinking doomed thoughts until dawn.

When you live with stress, when it's vague and always there, it's hard to imagine life without it. How your body would feel. How your outlook would change. It just seems like a hill in front of you, immutable, a real thing you have to get through because here you are and the road goes like so. Once I get through this bit (you think) there will be some relief.

Except the crazy world back there doesn't work according to the laws of nature. Created by humans for the profit of (some) humans, there's no inherent balance in the system. No equations to satisfy. So you can have that stress and climb through it day after day, never reaching an end. Anyone who acts like it's immutable, a construct of nature, unavoidable, is quietly profiting from your suffering.

I breathe deeply here not only because it's quiet, and stunningly beautiful. Not just because the creeks are running and the air is cool and fresh. Because my effort goes somewhere and is finite, and no one but me can take credit.

I love how the oaks without their leaves are dark, gothic skeletons. Not picturesque, for tourists. I love how the daylight is precious and in short supply, the clouds have rain in them. Though I'll probably be riding after dark and might get rained on, I love the gentle winter light. Allowing every plant and animal here to rest, take a drink, restore themselves. If I can let go of thoughts and routine, and just harmonize with them, that would be good.

And sleep for real tonight.

1 comment :

  1. This is beautiful. Not only the photos, but the bit about climbing in life felt very visceral to me.