Posts

Sanborn Drive: Mushroom Weather!

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It took some coaxing to get my mom up to the park today in the fog where we could give her her birthday present. At first she was trepidatious of her new rollator (we're calling it her roly poly) but soon she wouldn't stop for anything but the season's first mushrooms. I grew up mushrooming, so seeing my aunts and uncles down on their knees trying to identify today's featured fungus was a fun blast from the past. There was a group of them that Google Lens helped identify as either Russula cyanoxantha or Booted Knight (Tricholoma focale). We rolled past a flurry of activity up at the native plant nursery; Friends of Sausal Creek is a group that protects the watershed and propagates native plants (other than funghi). They have workdays every Wednesday and today, in the eerie fog, they were merrily plopping little seedlings along the fence where informative labels will tell you what they are.  We got as far as the funeral pyre (there wouldn't be much to see at Lookout

Lookout Point & Elephant Barn: Music & Memories

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Most days I spend here are in solitude, but today in the park it was practically a party. Celebrating my friend Suzette's completion of her Master's Degree, we got Muffalletas and tea from  L’Acajou Bakery & Cafe  (Epiphany! Must try!) and picnicked in the park. There was the sound of a horn, from far far away. Suzette had never been to the Park before so I gave her the tour. When we arrived at Lookout Point and peered over the rocky edge, there was a fine young man with a gleaming trombone, smiling up at us. Soon we were chatting in English and in Spanish. Cuban trombonist  Obrayan-Calderon  (Obryzon), plays in bands all over the Bay Area and even recorded with  Fantastic Negrito . Soon Suzette, who sings backup with  Nott the Hoople , was chatting him up and networking about music gigs. I hummed a few bars of "Joaquin Miller Went Walkin'" and he tried a lick or two.... now I think we'll need a MAMBO version...! Then Suzette and I started brainstorming ho

Write in the Hights!*

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Calling all writers who love nature!  Starting in November, I've begun hosting a mid-month writing retreat in the Park. Come any time during the day, take a walk and explore, and find a place to put some words on paper. Look for other writers at the Ranger Station - inside or outside - at 9am, 12pm, and 3pm to make connections and share your work. This event is sponsored by the California Writers Club . We offer a monthly speaker series on the craft and business of writing, numerous support and critique groups, and social events for networking and fellowship. The history of the CWC is interwoven with the history of Joaquin Miller Park. We are made up of writers at all stages of our careers, writing in all genres and media, embracing the rich diversity of California Writers. Add Write in the Hights* to your calendar ! Visit Joaquin Miller Park! Bring a notebook and write! (*Joaquin Miller humorously mis-spelt his home hill.)

Fern Ravine: Sussurations of the Soul

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Hump day, slump day. I couldn't seem to get anything done today. Spinny ball of doom. Can't connect. Dead ends on every task. Taking a new path today up a soft green valley brown carpeted with compost, I felt held by the muffled silence, then tickles in my ears. Around a bend I found a tiny trickle.  Below my dangling feet, light wiggled on a living puddle, a small spot of sky staring up from the dirt and dead leaves. On the slope to my left, a lone mushroom peeped out from the messy debris, strangely circular in the chaos, an eye. There were murmurs in the distance, then voices from somewhere above me. The sounds materialized into bodies descending the hill. Friendly faces emerged from the trees, two women aglow from a happy hike.  We became acquainted in the way of the day, sending pics of each other to the numbers before saying our names.  Tiffany and Kaamil have been walking every Wednesday. They discovered the Park when 510 Hikers   sponsore

Diversity in the Parks: Kids All Belong in Nature

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Last night on Zoom, Darlene Flynn, Director of Oakland's Department of Race and Equity , showed the audience a black-and-white photo of herself as a child, sitting on the hood of a car, surrounded by her family, in a magnificent mountain setting.  There was something unusual about this idyllic family portrait, so typical of the post-war era when families flocked to National Parks for Sunday picnics. Not so much that all of the women were wearing dresses, and no doubt heels of some practical height—I mean who does that anymore? But her dad is black and her mom is white, something rare for that era, though normal, and legal, in the state of Washington at that time. Everyone's smiling and having a great day in the great outdoors. Darlene had been invited by The Friends of Joaquin Miller Park ’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee to bring new perspectives to park stakeholders. She invited us all to lean into Oakland’s vision of “creating a city where racial disparities have

Palos Colorados: Gravity & Growth

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I'm sitting on a big rock again today. This one looks over Sausal Creek in the cool slant of the ravine above the freeway.  Everything has changed since the big soaking! The hills are turning green and the creek is dancing with water. The dusty tension of autumn is past, with relief there was no disaster here this year. Now it's as if magic has been born again.  Water frolics down the slope in a sliver of silver, singing to the ears of my heart. There is a certain kind of solitude you can only find near a bubbling stream. This is not music you can play on a scale, music you can transpose on a sheet. I want to set lyrics to it but I can't; the poetry comes separately, in its own capricious rhythms. No matter; I have a rock. I have these sweet few minutes I claimed for myself, away from the musts, to listen to the woods, to channel this stream of consciousness into a trickle of words. I walk back through archways that make me feel grand. There are galloping dogs and spying gn

The Drawing Begins!

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The day of my first workshop was the day the rain began. It was either cancel the workshop or rent the Ranger Station, and I decided to go for it. I've been waiting a decade to do this; why let a little deluge stop me? Only one family actually made it, but they really got the project off to a great start. We sang the song, then Gabe, Nico, and their dad Jeff picked up pencils, markers, crayons and paintbrushes and got inspired. The part of the song that spoke to us the most was the last stanza: Well, the rain poured on Joaquin. The water drizzled down all over Oakland... It was amazing to see how each of these twin brothers approached art. One confidently freehanded the stuffed barn owl in the display case. (Hoot hoot!) The other was explorative and expressionistic, his sketches conveying the dizzy feeling of looking at a tall tree, his hands dancing with the energy of raindrops. Their grandfather was an art professor, and I think he would be proud.  The dad made a beautiful sketch