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Not the same old place

July 31, 2016

I was inspired today by a blog post by “Mildly Extreme” Jane, who lives in Australia and records her local nature adventures with fabulous photos and winsome words (and occasional bursts of alliteration, which I appreciate).

Her most recent post details the natural abundance of a local hike in an “urban wilderness” area–as her blog’s title suggests, nothing extreme, but her attentiveness and attention to details creates such appreciation in me as I wander along the Tarcoola Track with her, courtesy of the internet.


Same ol’ same ol’ . . . along the Barham Ridge trail near Weir Canyon

Thinking about her post, I realized that even though I’ve been wandering (and eventually writing about) the same ol’ hills just outside my hometown of Orange, CA, for 20+ years, it’s always rewarding to revisit these familiar, flawed-but-still-fascinating places.

Thousands of miles I’ve traveled over the same ol’ dusty loops up and down and around Barham Ridge; each time proves Heroclitus correct (although I did not know he was the one who came up with this idea until just now when I looked up the source of the quote “You can’t enter the same river twice” ).

Time of year, time of day, time of my life: all these constants of change keep me on my toes out on the trails. (And of course I would never heel-strike since my toes are naked.)


Since summer’s been sizzling lately, my run times have shifted to early morning; today I was laying down tracks in the dirt just after 6 am. A lovely scatter of cirrus clouds transformed the first light:


Don’t try this at home: munching the delicate flowers of jimson weed is fine for critters; not so much for humans unschooled in the arts of hallucinogenic botany.


Prickly pear in silhouettes; like all California native plants, this one was valuable to the earliest inhabitants of the area (and you can still find nopales in local produce aisles).


Mmmm  . . . the perfume of  thick-leaved yerba santa! (another useful California native plant for folks who know what they’re doing).

Summer heat changes our activity patterns; humans head for the beach, local critters head into hiding. One exception is the opportunistic (optimistic?) dung beetle. Crap seems to be a year-round commodity in these parts (especially right now during election season. Ba-dah-bump.)


Feces or foot? The dung beetle knows . . . 

July’s last day: early morning clouds, slanted light, cool air under the oaks, shadowed dust . . . welcome changes from the heat of mid-day, mid-summer.

And now, in mid-life (sheesh–I think at age 57 I’m actually past mid-life), I continue to change with the seasons. I’ve run three times this week, aiming to put into practice some of the kinesthetic awareness I’ve been learning about by reading “Running with the Whole Body,” a thirty-year-old gem I  recently discovered in the county library system that applies Feldenkrais (“awareness through movement” principles to running.

Each run has been more fantastic than the last, with uphills invigorating and downhills downright exhilarating. Last summer at this time I was reduced to walking due to right hip pain; a year later (these things take time), after ongoing extremely fantastic physical therapy work as well as months of Feldenkrais classes, I have reached running bliss.

I’m older than I’ve ever been (duh), but also “younger” — I can float effortlessly, shoelessly, over trails for 90 minutes and feel invigorated, not exhausted, when I arrive back at the car.

Now: to take these lessons learned back to work as it commences tomorrow . . .  how to keep from getting lost in my head and letting my body rot motionless in a desk chair as another school year begins . . .

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Happy Back-to-school trails!






2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 31, 2016 4:11 pm

    Thank you so much for linking to my blog, Thea. You inspire me with your words and pictures. I love that you’ve included how you are not the same person as time goes on. Like the landscape at different times of day and as the seasons pass, we also change. Like you, I am older than I’ve ever been but in some ways I feel younger too. As I age I feel like the simple truths, joys and innocence of childhood are returning. Thank you for these lovely images and thoughtful words. I also love the quote as rivers. How true. Peace to you. 🙂

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