Friday, January 29, 2010

Mountain walk grounds and heightens state of grace

Hiking yesterday up on the trail behind the house, I took notice of some new things.

It seemed to be a shorter trail, possibly due to the fact that I could anticipate some of the bends and things I would see, such as the burnt out car on one slope or certain spots I stopped and soaked in the first time I headed up there early in the morning last summer. I guess the trail had become somewhat more familiar even though that first dusty jut straight up seemed to take much longer and I even had a stick with me for support this time. The first time I went up I saw a much older gentleman walking up that steep ascent with a stick and watched him take breaks but remain steady. It was pretty surprising to me since I thought it looked a little dangerous. Coming back down it can really slide out from under you even with the stick in hand.

I did my usual doubletake at all the blackened tree trunks and branches, but this time noticed how stark the contrast was, how beautiful they looked against the clear afternoon sky and somewhat greener hilltop around them. They were really pretty popping out at me.

A gorgeous, chirping bluebird came down from a higher perch to a lower tree positioned on the side of the hill as I was walking by and I swore it was grandma there talking to me. I have felt her close diving around the backyard as a white butterfly when I was out here in the backyard more last summer and so it was again on the trail. I loved how it made me feel to see this birdie picking at the ground with its beak trying to find some snacks or some thing to play with.

I guess what is so refreshing about a good long walk in the hills alone is that whether you intend to or not, you end up being momentarily absorbed by Mother Nature, just as now the two small yellow-greenish birds are sitting on the water hose spout getting a sip, now flying off dancing about in the yard just as they did last summer. Some things are constants.

I also was under the spell of this small green plant near the edge of the lower hilltop that was level with the trail because it looked so happy sitting in the direct sunlight, all warm and fed by the gigantic sunshine overhead.

Amazing stuff all around us every day but somehow by our own minds omission (history, culture etc) and our density of habits we are completely out of touch, unable to touch with our senses and conscious awareness the intense beauty and mystery such simple existence provides us. Well I definitely got a share of this feeling yesterday and I am thankful for that time alone up there, quiet, moving and observing my planet in motion.

It was warm when I started out on the walk and thought I would be loaded down by my clothing, but as I got higher quickly understood that the winds were gonna being kicking me around and I would need all I had on.

I reached the top around 4, after 2 hours of easy climbing and headed over to the other side where I could see deeper into the San Gabriel range. I saw the leftover snow covered caps towards Glendale and those that are further North.

Again, amazing that such density of mountains exists just right behind my house. I love that first view you get when you round the corner after reaching the top of the trail. I sat down to rest my legs and feet, ate a few pretzels and took in the visuals. I felt the colder late afternoon air begin to blast me and decided I wouldn’t hang around long (isn’t it about reaching the top anyway?!!!). It took about an hour to come back down to the park and into my neighborhood. I passed a couple folks on my way down and stopped compulsively to take pictures of the setting sun and the light that was enveloping me.

I love when you can see a full hot setting sun one direction and the full moon rising looking the other way. I could just feel that cool, anxious, and appealing transition from day into night. The birds were all out singing as the thick color strips pulsed across the sky giving it a strange, when I was a kid in the summer feel, and I just smiled as I made my way back to the house, no keys, no bag with me, just my thick stick and body in motion. Good afternoon jaunt to say the least. I knew California was a sight for these weary eyes and this particular plot of the Valley is beginning to nurture me the way a home should.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Making Boxes for Others

What a treat this past holiday season became for me all because my hands got directly involved in creating something, boxes for others. I have wanted to make small boxes for others (just that sentiment) since I tried my hand as a carpenters apprentice back in 2001. While that experience was only 3 months in length, being around the various hardwoods, hand planers and saws, not to forget the mindless hours of sanding (which I thoroughly enjoy) made quite an impression. Enough background, let’s get to the work itself. I went to a big lumber supply store in North Hollywood and picked out some simple pine slabs and plywood, some screws and sandpaper and headed to Gabe’s studio where thankfully he had a chop saw and the needed drill etc. It was a fun project to conceive.

I knew I would have to sink into the what’s and why’s of each individual box and hoped as the cutting and design began I would learn what each was to become. I ended up making 10 in total for all of Gabe’s family. It felt amazing to see the cuts, line the pieces up, watch the design develop, sand each piece over and over and assemble. The smell and feel of each small piece gave me something, maybe tactile time brings it’s own story forth, which is what I had hoped would happen. I ended up with a few different themes, such as brain boxes for the kids to place their already acquired and still desired knowledge. I spent some time writing something and including it into each one, then packed them up and sent them to the East Coast. I was sort of sad to see them go. I had lived with the idea getting this project going for a long time. Luckily there are many more friends and family members to sit with and sand for. In fact, I have 2 requests right now. The hopes are that I give myself the time to stay with this very simple and satisfying endeavor. See a few pictures of my favorites.