School's been out for three weeks, but my workload didn't let up. I helped conduct the writing workshop for the first two weeks and then attended a science institute the third week. So my summer break officially began this past weekend. I celebrated my liberty by taking the dogs for a walk on Saturday. My momentum for walking has been ebbing away as I've gotten busier and tireder. I had great reasons for not making the effort to get the steps in, but in the end I felt so disappointed in myself that this feeling got me moving again. So on Saturday morning I decided to tackle Gopher Ridge.
From our road, Gopher Ridge just doesn't look like that big of a deal. It's a big bump of a hill that lulls the uninitiated into a false sense that it's an easy walk. The dogs, the horse and I know better. It makes for a lovely view, but it's not nicknamed "Buttbuster Hill" for nothing.
It's starts out gradually enough, but it just never lets up and keeps getting steeper. My Wharf to Wharf run I'm entered in is at the end of next month and my legs know that they've been slacking off. So I walked at as brisk a pace as I could muster. The dogs hated me for this. They stopped at every clump of shade and sat and panted sadly at me. I cracked the whip (metaphorically) and kept them moving. A sixty year old lady should not be able to outwalk her whippersnapper dogs. Have they no pride?
The answer is that, no, they don't. As the road became steeper, I could hear them grumbling under their panting. I ignored the lack of enthusiasm and kept the lot us going. The sun got hotter and the ascent began feeling like a trek up Mt. Everest. I told the dogs that we were having fun. They didn't believe me, but (since they are dogs), they went along with the charade. Reluctantly.
The view from the top is amazing. Our home in the foothills is in a pretty but unremarkable location. But from the top of nearby Gopher Ridge, one can see the soft blue of Sierra Nevada Range waltzing across the horizon. Every time I stand in this place I'm struck by the fact that nothing separates me from them but air. If I could leap high enough, I'd be there in an instant.
Needless to say, the dogs didn't notice any of this. All they knew was that they were hot.
At the top, we rested for a few minutes and then turned around and went back down. Gravity was our friend and we picked up the pace. We startled a small herd of deer and they leaped up the hillside with no trouble at all. The dogs didn't bat an eye -- too much effort.
Everything is so dry. How many years of drought is it now? Four, I think. The trees and bushes are hunkered down, intent on surviving. I love this place so much but am powerless to conjure up a rainstorm So I drink in the beauty and hold the thought that we'll somehow make it through these dry times.
The dogs survived their own dry times. When we got home, they made a beeline for the ever-shrinking pond and splashed right on in.
In another few weeks the pond will be gone. Enjoy it while you can, sweet puppies!