Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Friend To Mountains

I grew up next to the ocean. With my family and other people in the neighborhood, I spent whole days, as well as just evenings, on Baker Beach, just inside the mouth of the Golden Gate. I played in the 55F degree water as only children can do while adults stroll along the foamy edge of the waves. At Ocean Beach, where we were only allowed to go as far in as our ankles, my friends and I would peer at the Farallones and imagine we were seeing Japan. During spring break of my freshman year of college, Jujubi, Hawaii, and I went to Seaside in Oregon and I flew a stunt kite on the beach most of the time we were there, the sound of the waves and the buffeting wind soothing my depressed and confused adolescent heart.

I consider myself a friend to mountains. I am not a mountain climber, or even much of a hiker. Like John Muir with a flower, I want to sit beside a mountain (or perhaps "on a mountain" is more like it) for a minute, or a day, and hear what it has to tell. I see layers of rock, smell the powdery scent of rocks after rain, and feel my skin catch on a thousand small fissures when I run my palm across the ground. I took enough geology in college to imagine upthrust and erosion, volcanic eruption and re-eruption, while in front of me and around me the mountains sit in peace.

I have lived near mountains. The house I grew up in is a couple miles from the summit of Twin Peaks, looking toward Mount Diablo, not even a mile high but visible from all over the bay area. The house I lived in in college had two small windows, one in the stairway and one in the upstairs bathroom, which faced Mount Rainier. The first place I lived by myself had Mount Saint Helen's out the kitchen window and Mount Hood out the back door. I truly wish I had photos of these mountains to post here, but I am missing about nine years' worth of photos and don't have any to scan in. Please go to so I don't inadvertently break any copyright laws.

(photo by Mark Dix)

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