Monday, December 12, 2011

Clouds before the storm

Today's morning walk was cool, grey, temps in the low 30's F.  No snow, but it's always good to be out.  I've read recently about the effects of nature on the brain, that being out in nature, looking, absorbing the natural environment helps us think and balances us emotionally.  Not a new idea:

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”

--John Muir

If I'm ever angry, confused, depressed, funky, then a walk, a ride, a ramble in the hills almost always puts me to rights.  I find it incredible (as in unbelievable) that some people can spend their entire lives in paved, regulated, controlled urban and suburban environments.  Packed together like rats, no wonder our big cities are breeding grounds for crime and mental illness.  I realize I am lucky to live in "shruburbia" as the great hiker Colin Fletcher calls the semi-wild regions like mine, a frontier between housing and undeveloped expanses.  Indeed, my home valley, with a fairly low and spread out populace, is surrounded by millions of virtually uninhabited acres.  Cattle roam some of it, but most is the land of the coyote, the fox, and deer, the occasional black bear, bobcat, and mountain lion.  I've only seen tracks of bear, but those were hardly a mile from my house.  All the others we have seen directly.  On some nights, the chaotic chorus of coyotes with a kill drifts down the mountains, putting Django on edge.

Still, for all their beauty, my local hills grow familiar, and I crave new vistas, a different trail underfoot.  In a week, we head out for the Mojave and Sonora deserts.  We'll amble through silent dry canyons and forests of cacti under a cool, dim winter sun.  I'll post when I can.

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