23 July 2010

cone peak

it’s good to come inside after a full day in the sun spent climbing a peak in shorts and a bikini top and plucking public plums. when i get home i step inside barefoot, followed by the big black and white cat. he doesn’t care so much that i am back as he wants any attention he can get, and when i sit down to my greens and dinnertime magazine he rubs the dirt off my ankles with his soft coat. the rug is soft and familiar on my bare toes, a welcome break after trundling barefoot through gravel all afternoon.

we hiked three miles up a mile-high mountain today. is that even possible? it seems unreasonable that humans should be able to stand up straight so high above sea level. at that altitude it looks like you can walk out onto the marine layer, before it burns off. we try to avoid walking during midday but relish, nonetheless, the sun's effects on our skin. did you hear about the thirteen-year-old who climbed mount everest? it was an american boy. of course it was a boy. on the balcony of the cone peak lookout we look hard. if you look hard enough you can see the waves breaking in big sur, just north of kirk creek. if you focus you can follow the highway's winding path. somewhere out there is a sailboat headed god knows where. it's a strange season for that kind of distance travel; we bet they have a motor.

this is the view. it is gigantic and mind-bogglingly real. you know when you get somewhere and you're like, why am i not here all the time? it's like that, except the walk to the ocean is far too long for my tastes. but still, the pacific is there - eternal - beneath that protective cloud cover.

i try to imagine what it would have been like to be a salinas indian: to have survived off of acorn mash and venison and i don't even know what all, way back when. aloe is for treating sunburns; it grows wild, though we invariably admire the yucca more: its blossoms are not only beautiful but also aromatic.

the last of the monkeyflowers are wilting and dying and the poison oak is everywhere but it hasn't turned crimson yet. summer elapses fast; big sur is famous for a reason.

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