Friday, July 01, 2005

My month in review

It’s been about a month now since I left the watery ocean world of Monterey and came back to the dry and mountainous Tucson desert. I remember my first wet winter in Monterey (2003-4) when it rained so much I thought the wooden houses might swell up and float away.

Today, with not a cloud in sight, the sun burned all day, reaching a high of 111ºF. Currently it is a cool 100ºF. I stayed inside all day today until sunset time, just like smart desert animals do. But unlike unencumbered lizards, snakes, coyotes, and white-tailed rabbits at dusk, I wielded two leashed and excited dogs tonight as I walked with Sadie and Yuki on the grass at Himmel Park. In the relative coolness of nightfall, people were out in the park playing Frisbee, playing soccer, doing tai’chi, walking with their dogs, and playing tennis.

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I love the simplicity of road trips. On our way back to Tucson, I had my new vehicle packed with all my stuff. I made it comfortable for Jesse and Yuki. As a cat, Jesse had the run of the place. Yuki had only the passenger seat to curl up in, as I, too, had only the driver’s seat. So, we made frequent stops to stretch and move as we made our way down the coast. I decided to take scenic Hwy 1 for most of the way down to San Diego. Yuki and I walked around at almost every vista point along the highway.

The elephant seals were especially fun to watch—and smelly—hundreds of them were laying close together, inching on top of each other as they basked in the sun on the beach. I also enjoyed looking at sea birds and other sea creatures through my binoculars. I saw what looked like two breaching whales, but I’m not sure. They may have been two elephant seals, in which case, they appeared to be dancing.

I brought my camping gear, including my little Whisperlite cook stove, planning to cook meals like I did on my way up to Monterey in July of 2003. This time, it felt simpler to eat the raw foods I'd packed: Asian pears, carrots, snap peas, and several pb&j sandwiches. For tea, I requested hot water for my thermos at McDonald’s. I enjoyed drinking the tea from one of my little ceramic teapots when I stopped.

Our first night (5/26) we slept under oak trees in my tent at El Capitan campground near Santa Barbara. Yes, Jesse likes to sleep in my tent. So does Yuki. I bring Jesse’s litter box in there and Yuki’s water bowl, which they both use, and we are quite cozy in my 2-person dome.

In the morning, I put Yuki and Jesse inside the Isuzu while I was washing up, but discovered when I was ready to take off that all the doors were locked with my keys inside. I saw the keys dangling from the ignition. You’d think after twelve years together that Yuki would be able to read my mind and have the dexterity to just hand me those keys dangling so close to his head. But, no, he was just looking at me. Luckily, I had rolled down the window about 2-3 inches for Yuki & Jesse. Unluckily, unlike my former little Geo Metro, the Isuzu windows are power windows and could not be budged simply by pushing on them. I tried to fit my arm in the crack, but could only make it as far as my wrist. So, I asked the white-haired man camping in the space near mine whether he had any wire or even a wire coat hanger to try to lift up the inside lock. He said he’d look. In the meantime, I walked down the other way and came upon a VW bus family. After I described how big the crack in the window was, they lent me their little boy. They thought he might be able to get his arm through if I lifted him up. Even his little arm was not small enough to reach through. He told me he was in second grade and that they were camping but didn’t live there. He seemed very independent, and he had long hair past his shoulders. Soon, the white-haired man returned with some light gauge wire, which he had fashioned into a fishing hook. He tried to get the lock up, but wasn’t hitting it. I tried and got it right up. Yay! We were on our way.
If the wire hadn’t worked, I would have called AAA; I have a membership.

The next day was another fun day of driving. I listened to dharma talks the whole way down: Pema Chodron’s “Awakening Compassion”, Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Ultimate Dimension: Teachings on the Avatamsaka Sutra”, and Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, and stopped at ocean overlooks whenever I could. It was Friday of Memorial Day weekend and as I approached the Los Angeles area the traffic got noticeably heavier. I decided to drive through LA instead of stopping to see my cousin. In Encinitas, I took a rest from driving to enjoy one of my favorite gardens. The garden is built on a cliff overlooking the ocean on the grounds of the Self- Realization Fellowship. There are many varieties of flowering Asian plants, alcoves and benches for contemplating the garden, a small cactus garden, and lushly vegetated koi ponds with big gold, red, orange, and white speckled koi. I took Yuki for a walk in the adjoining Guru Park, named for SRF founder, Paramahansa Yogananda (Autobiography of a Yogi). In the park, while Yuki enjoyed sniffing everything, I did a shortened version of all the exercises I had been doing with my Monterey Senior Center exercise buddies. Moving my body like that from head to toe is a great way to stretch out after long hours of sedentary driving.

We drove ‘til late that night, about 70miles from Gila Bend, and stopped at a dark pullout where some other cars and trucks had parked for a rest. I parked under a tamarisk tree in a sandy area and made a comfortable bed on top of all my stuff inside the Isuzu. I slept until dawn.

We arrived at Darci’s in the afternoon on Saturday. Yuki and Jesse met Sadie, Darci’s 2-year old wolfhound, golden retriever mix. The three of them sniffed each other, watched each other, and moved about the house together without any trouble right from the beginning. It was amazing.
In the early evening it actually monsooned. An auspicious beginning to my stay in Tucson.

There is no time, really. We live, doing things and moving through space. Months pass, moments pass. If I reflect on what I do during a specific period of time, I see that I do a lot. While I am being and doing, I don’t think that I am doing a lot at all, so it is always surprising to me to uncover all that action. I once wrote a prose poem entitled, “If I was tagged like a bear” after realizing how much I do--how much we all do--in a single day. I'd need a radio transmitter attached to my body to actually remember everything, every move, every glint of sunlight that moves me, every person I smiled at or talked with, etc. It’s too much, really. It’s the same with this month in review. There’s too much for me to tell. So I will end here, now. And elements or episodes of this month will merge into next month, into another entry, another conversation, another story, ‘cuz that’s how things flow: through space and time; always in transition. But one thing’s for sure: there is only this moment, now. Life is only available in the present moment.

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