Saturday, August 29, 2009

iWALK sebastopol

Not long ago, in January 2008, a small group of friends that included Sarah and me decided to share our love of walking with the community. We got the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Sebastopol, and the local hospital to help publicize our first efforts. We got a total of $500 from Apple Valley Convalescent Hospital as the seed money (that's all) and off we went. Our first walks drew very few people outside our core group. But now we see lots more people and are making new friends and acquaintances on our walks.

We offer walks on the final Saturday of each month. This month's walk attracted more than 40 walkers even though it was a scorcher.

I got this photo of most of us at the beginning of the walk. We went into the Laguna de Santa Rosa on a property normally closed to the public.

Early on we crossed the Laguna and spotted a Green Heron resting in the shade.

This turtle posed for me.

There are sweeping views in the floodplain.

We stopped often to listen to docents from the Laguna Foundation tell us about the natural and human history of the area.

We rested in the shade (it was 99°F) of several trees, this one a Black Walnut (Juglans nigra).

Black walnuts, a member of the hickory family, produce nuts that run a bit smaller than the more familiar English walnut.

Black walnuts come in a tough outer husk which produces a juice that becomes an inky greenish-black stain when exposed to air. Pomo Indians used these walnut husk-juices to dye the fibers woven into their baskets.

Black walnuts have hardy rootstock. People figured out that the best way to grow walnuts in these parts is to graft English walnut branches on Black Walnut trees so as to get the best of both worlds: a hardy tree producing a tasty walnut.

Someone with sharp eyes pointed out this praying mantis resting in the grass. This one knows what Mary Oliver was talking about when she mentions prayers made of grass.

This image can be enlarged by clicking on it.

I enjoyed several conversations along the way, mostly with friends from earlier hikes. But what makes these outings such fun is the opportunity to meet new friends. I particularly enjoyed talking this morning with two women around my age, Patricia Currie, a fellow teacher who told me that she substituted for me 20 years ago at the beginning of her career as a teacher.

I also enjoyed meeting David Peterson, a geologist, and his wife, Paula. Paula enjoyed photography, walking, and natural history so much that (to me, privately) she seemed in many ways to resemble Delwyn Tatton. (If she had talked in an Australian accent, the effect would have been complete.) I allowed myself permission to pretend that I was enjoying the pleasure of meeting and walking with my blogging buddy, Delwyn. This made me warmer and more outgoing than I normally am, and we got along splendidly. So this is one way that the friendships we develop through blogging can influence actual face-to-face new friendships in a positive way.

Paula and me, walking in Eden.


steven said...

dan this is such an awesome project to undertake. it's a gift with a myriad other gifts tucked away inside! the wildlife you see, the beautiful picture (that i can enlarge) with wood posing as wild animals!!! then the friendships. of course that's the most beautiful piece of all of this dan.
i joined a cycling group recently. people generally older than myself. they travel much slower than i do, they stop for water breaks. do a big hill? stop at the top and chat about what a tough hill it was.
i knew all of those little details when i joined up. i just wanted to meet people who enjoyed cycling. see the world with people willing to stop and express their amazement. have the opportunity to move at a pace that is gentler. we all need that in our lives. thanks for this good and gentle post dan. it's good to be here. steven

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Steven! I agree that the friendship of both human and plantanimal is the best part of every association. The great part about blogging is the opportunity it offers to build friendships online. I surely value yours.

I think it's great that you've joined a cycling group. Back in the day when I spent a lot of time on my bikes, I really valued the social dimension of cycling. Man, if you were a part of my cycling group, the tires on my bikes would be fully inflated. Sadly, I found the company of my bike friends a bit too...hmmm... I don't want to sound judgmental here, so let me just say, I'd still be riding if I found the likes of you in the group.

And as they say,

"Go easy. And if you can't go easy, go as easy as you can."

Delwyn said...

Hi dan

now that was cute
I have a stand in...

I wonder how much like me she really is...
But I love the way that knowing me allowed you to be more receptive to her and you were rewarded..that is lovely...

I loved to see your walk Dan, the dryness of the plains, the turtle and the green heron that I've never seen before...and how wonderful that you have had the initiative to organise the walks and to be able to walk on routes less travelled...

oh and I love walnuts. I eat lots on my morning muesli...

thanks for the time outdoors Dan

Happy days

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Delwyn. I guess it's impossible to say how much alike you really are. But really, we humans are different in only the particulars. Beneath it our skin-deep differences, we have similar needs as Abraham Maslow described.

I felt a little funny about transferring the friendship I feel for you onto someone I had just met and didn't really know at all, but doing so warmed our acquaintance, dusted us in pollen, and served us well. And, too, I felt just a little funny confessing that I did it on the blog. Maybe Bonnie's (and Steven's) idea tht we take more risks emotionally is having its effect on me, too.

A lot of the credit for the initiative for these walks belongs with Sarah and our friend Richard. I sing the harmony.

And, if you enjoyed this post, well, want to guess whose blog inspired it?

Margaret Pangert said...

Hi Dan! I thought I was walking along one of Delwyn's hikes! It had her feel and expression to it. But it was the live oak that did me in. You see so many of the huge majestic ones up north from you--remember the famous one in Chico's Bidwell Park? There are several in Cottonwood. We had black walnut trees, too. I like your spirit of community--that is very much part of the Native American character.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Margaret. This post was a lot like Delwyn's walk posts. I guess that makes sense since it was a post about a walk. Community is so important. We're all in this together, not only all of us people folk, but animal, vegetable, mineral, air, water folk, too.