Au Clair De La Lune J’ai Roule dans la Boue
It’s the longest running full moon ‘season’ I’ve enjoyed in eons.
By paying attention to the risings and settings via the newspaper, a conscientious lune-addict can time appointments with Her Silvery Highness (or Her Ruddy Lowliness) to salt away almost a week of indelible fun.
This morning, at five, HSH sailed high in a cloudless sky, with loyal Orion a few inches away accompanied by the dog star and a couple of planets.
“Let’s do a trail ride”
(self to self)
Roll out the Columboham, my suspended 1992 machine.
My crosser still has that rear flat.
Hah! We don’t need no stinkin’ helmets.
No drunken animals.
No trees flinging branches upon me.
It’s over the stable gate, and up the little rock mound where the ‘jail shadows’ are.
Bike feels like a comfortable shoe that lets me feel the earth’s surface.
Veer up the steeps and before even remembering that stairs are cut in to thwart bikers or facilitate upwardly mobile horses, I’m up and over the first two….serious momentum and utter relaxed hand on the bars.
Paia Tension–my muse– comes on duty, five minutes into my ride. It’s always a miracle that she shows up late, but never seems to let me down.
Considering the speed with which I routinely fly down all the stairs into the hut, and then out of the hut and onto the street, ’tis a miracle I haven’t lost some teeth or dinged my chin.
Back on track…
Lunelight is reticulated with a fine webbing, mostly light but some shadow. I break out on the first little clearing, glance around to see the familiar grassy slope angling down to my right at an impressive 20 percent. Ahead, “Boy Scout Junction” where four trails converge. I choose the uphill one, through increasingly inky blue shadows, as the overhead oaks shade the road.
Silver and blue the only colors.
In earlier days, the road surface would have been a fine dusty face-powder. Since the late 80’s though, the MMWD has semi-paved the road with a thick layer of rock, mostly broken graywacke. Or is it chert? The substrate is rocks twice the size of a walnut, not the sort of thing you’d care to genuflect upon, should you become un-biked for any reason.
Shadows flit across the road, that last could have been a fox.
At last, up the steeeeep road at Five Corners, and into the lacy-shadowed backtrail toward Six Points. And then down the Hidden Meadow to see if the Magic Tree is still sliding down its perfect little knoll.
In those same “earlier” days, when I lived in S.F., my idea of a good time was to ride 24 miles ato San Anselmo, hide my road bike in the woods, and jog up an unmarked hillside to get to Six Points. My objective, set eyes on a feat of arboreal engineering: an oak tree that seems to slide a few feet more, down the left side of a bare knoll. Alone, on a hill. The knoll’s inside a huge vat of greenery that is two miles from any trailhead…that you can be sure never to see a soul…even though it’s marked on the (old) Erickson maps.
Every time I check, it seems to have slid a little more.
I am quite certain that in some future year, it will be a pile of tree-bones, so I enjoy it while I can. Gee. Maybe I’ll take a picsa. Noah just lent me his spycamera, smaller than a pack of sniggerettes. Very sneaky. The tree won’t even know she’s being depicted.
By lunelight it is difficult to see if there are no leaves, brown leaves or green leaves. I’ll have to double check.
All around Marin, a scary number of trees, in the range of ten percent of all oaks, and virtually all Tanoaks, are succumbing to Sudden Oak Death, an evil visited upon the trees of California…I believe it began in Marin County. It’s an alliance between a fungus (Phytopthera) and a bug. ___
After peeking at the tree awhile and standing ‘stalk’ still to listen for owls, I return the same backtrail, but choose the narrow rabbit run through the wild oatgrass down the hill to Boy Scout. I half-remember all the rooty drop offs, and happily recall precisely where to dismount when the trail is crossed by thick tree roots and the trail itself is so low that the sides are hip-height (equine erosion).
And down to the stables, and home.
After breakfast I realize that Cynthia Carbone is still up in Marin for her writing workshop. Call her number, and she’s already leaving (a day early!), passing the ‘Novato” roadsign on 101.
Sez I to Cyn: Please pull off the freeway at Central San Rafael…I so want to see you and I know you never drive anywhere, let’s visit now!
“Jacquie, you know, I don’t even know how to drive while talking on the phone…this week was intense, and I got pretty overwhelmed…tell me again how to find you? This is really gonna stretch me…”
I put back my cycling shoes (having been home three hours since my ‘quickie’ moon inspection) and broke a dozen traffic laws wheeling toward the freeway. No witnesses. And this document doesn’t constitute a deposible witness.
I waited at the proposed zone, no luck . Ten minutes rolled slowly past. Damn, I’d gotten there in a record 20 minutes, and now I’d told her wrong (probably) how to find downtown San Rafael, and she’s probably crossed the bay by accident, having been funnelled onto the 580 bridge, oh well, there weren’t any guarantees…she might have just changed her mind about stopping.
How often has that happened to me?
Times when I just ‘opt out’, mid-errand….go home, admit defeat to Charlie, and take up banjo practice (it’s usually driving to SF for a session that causes my Chicken Out Chakra to glow and rotate. Half the time I turn around within a mile.
Headed back home, and listlessly called out “CYNTHIA!?”…
and there in a parking lot I never would have found, by Whislestop Wheels, stood an unrecognizably beautiful redhead (Cynthia’s hair was deep chocobrown in 1999 when I last saw her).
Jump up and down, and dump contents of my bag:
Baked figs from breakfast, maybe she’d like?
“They’re perfect, I didn’t eat…they remind me of Italy…”
A story I wrote for the Pacific Sun ‘death issue’ (didn’t know it was the death issue), about the upcoming movie Klunkerz.
And some feijoas for her to try.
And yes, that killer picture that Chris Hill took, of the two insouciant little brats sticking their tongues out at the camera, flagrantly ignoring mum’s entreaty for a ‘nice smile’.
We agreed that there is something incredibly heartwarming about girls that tell the photographer to fuck off, we’re not in the MOOD for a nice, polite smile!!!
And I have evidence!
“You know I came on scholarship, right, so I had to read a piece first thing when we got there…and after reading it…a woman rushed up and said she wanted to be my agent, she loved the writing…Jacquie you wouldn’t believe how intense it was…there were people you paid to critique your work, like this guy from Chronicle books, who demolished my momentary bliss by saying that memoirs are SOO dead…unless you have a ‘platform’….Jacquie you have several platforms, plus something to say, plus that witty way with words like e.e.cummings…”
(whew, reader I fairly blushed. This lady can really write, and she isn’t b.s’ing me, but i still have trouble ‘accepting’ such heartfelt words).
Then we traded more stories, caught up on ten years, and snapped some extremely memorable pictures with her tiny silver camera, which of course I’m going to learn how to do too , as soon as NOAH THE BARRISTER forwards me his camera… and then you guys will be stuck with more photos than you know what to do with.
Rode homeward in a mist of wellbeing, big smile….remember that I need to stop at a garage sale for a whistllng tea-pot.
Just after turning off of Third St, the dangerous one-way route leading from freeway to Fairfax, a man jumps from a car, yelling my name.
“Hey Jacquie, I knew it was you…those glasses!”
“How are you doing? ” I say convincingly.
I’ve never seen the man in my life.
“Great. Sunday drive with my mom, that’s her…going to the Appetite Seminar this year?”
After fudging for a couple more questions, hoping the fellow’s identity would be bundled with one of his replies…I looked squarely at him and said,
“What is your name?”
“John Borzini” I was one of the orignals, along with Donna Degan, blablabla..”
“Sorry to have not remembered” I said abjectly. I hate not remembering names..
“No worries. I was before your time”.
Well, in that case..do you want my boast card?
“Already got it”.
And we parted. Just thinking of this makes me laugh. It is obvious that the Rumor-Caliber Fame Enhancement Regimen is paying off. I have strangers stopping me in the street. But it gets better.
I peruse a fine garage sale, find a couple of early Armatrading albums and a cashmere sweater, load them into my messenger bag (road bike for this errand, no panniers , but hellishly light and swift on the tarmac) and barely made it out to 3rd St again, and the fellow pulls in front of me, jumps out and hands me a china tea cup, with the inside painted gold, and the saucer to match. Still with the $2 sticker on it…
“I saw this and had to get it for you,” he explained.
I never even thought to ask, what if I’d taken a different route home with my garage sale booty.
More pleasantries, plus a promise to write the day up…
At Androgeno’s it’s impossible not to peek into the Pavlovian dumpsters…and lo, verily, some stunning organic heirloom tomatoes, including the green-and-red striped one.
MMMMM. And four quarts of strawberries…
I really can’t keep going. The day un-spooled like a poorly constructed morality play where by simply being kind to people (and occasionally for going the Extra Mile) you are consecrated evermore to a tribe of dervishes (whoops now I’m mixing my religious metaphors). I know I’m tired, so I’ll just let you dangle in Purgat-o’read.