Global Skywatch

Ted’s essays

Spring Lake

Spring Lake ScooterThis is not what I am accustomed to for January 4th. Neither weather nor scenery are “right” for the season. It is also nothing like what I enjoy by way of elbow room. I pulled off the trick of a photo without other people in it, but believe me, they were EVERYWHERE else I looked.

When I was 11, the water agency began filling Spring Lake, flooding a small portion of “My Woods”; the private playground of my youth. Fluffy and I spent thousands of fine hours wandering and exploring nature there. Neither of us were restrained by leashes of any kind nor interrupted by other humans. We followed paths and trails created by wildlife or blazed our own.

Lucky for me, development of the park inviting the hordes into my playground took place a long time later.Spring Lake spillway

One day of exploration brought us to this spillway when it was new. It had a thin sheet of water and slick algae down the middle 6-feet of that long slope. There in the pool at its base was probably the last salmon to attempt spawning on Santa Rosa Creek.

I had neither seen nor imagined a freshwater fish that big. It was exhausted from futile efforts at making it up this stream. I observed and felt for it, but finally moved on unable to think of a single action I could take with regards to this king of the fish.

Now the asphalt paths have solid yellow lines painted down the middle with signs directing people … keep to the right… pick up your poop … speed limit 10 mph …

Traffic !OhMyGosh!, traffic on every road I drive jostling, jamming and squeezing every inch of the way. I kind-of remember that from my other lifetime in Sonoma County, but have very deliberately avoided the rush hours … how awful those must be. We made a run to San Francisco. Yep – it can get worse.

I finally squeeze the pickup into the miserly slot at the outer reaches of a shopping center parking lot only to stop-and-go jostle our way through the in-store traffic of shoppers and carts.

Scooter spends our entire walk on the short leash, as the flow of people and pets in both directions through the park is completely without break. Where coming across another human with or without pets is an occasion for stopping and small talk in the real world, here they rarely acknowledge your passing. Even head-nods would wear a person out.

Yet we have met and spent time with so many nice people during our visit. It is just of necessity, I suppose, that those interractions are reserved for out-of-the-hustle-bustle circumstances.

Interesting. Different. It works for them.

For me, there’s no place like home.