A Day In The Mountains

One of my dharma friends, when we were discussing going down to Tassajara for Allison’s shuso ceremony, pointed out that it is a very long way to go for the day. Yes, I said, but it is always worth it. Even though I was tired out by the end of the day, and the next day, I stand by my statement.
Tim picked me up at 6am, and we left town in light rain that turned into a pleasant spring day as we went south. I had the next driving shift, bringing Ed, Vicki, Marc Lesser and Tim over the road in the FJ, a car I had never driven before, and whose handling took a little getting used to. With the amount of rain we have had, the road was inevitably deeply rutted and bumpy, with some very narrow passages, and a few places where it looked like the downhill side was going to sheer off, so it was a noticeably slower journey than in the summer.

At tea, there was usual variety of people to say hello to, including a few I hadn’t expected to see (those who had been forced to leave at the end of last year because of issues with student visas at Zen Center).
Allison, of course, has already been through the ceremony before, but being shuso at Tassajara is different to doing it in the city, and she seemed to have grown in confidence over the three months – she said it all came from her hara. She seems ready to launch herself back into the world, as is her intention, and some of the practice period monks were ready to do the same, while others were glad of an upcoming vacation and the shift to the summer season, after the long winter of monastic practice. But, as I mentioned in my congratulations, whatever storms may have passed through, right now, it was a beautiful spring day.

We didn’t see many flowers on the road beyond a scattering of Indian paintbrush around Lime Point (and since we were running behind schedule, I did not stop the car to take a photo), but the blossom behind the zendo was at its peak, and the creek was clear and abundantly flowing. There was time for a quick dip before lunch and more chat – including trying to explain to Lucy from London what had happened in Brexit in the two weeks since she had last seen a newspaper (a sorry task) – and then back in the car for the drive north, as the sun cast low light on the beautiful green hills south of San Jose, and the rain returned right where the fog normally starts to sink onto the 280.

Once again I was the official photographer for the occasion – this is everybody who was there.

Allison with her two shuso teachers, Norman and Ed.

There were many selfies.

The creek was fresh, but the rocks underwater were slippery, and some of the steps I had laid a couple of summers ago had washed away.

The intermittent sunshine made for easier photography, as it smoothed down the contrast.

There were low clouds hanging over the mountains on the way out.

DSCF6735.jpgThe evening light on the 101 south of San Jose was a photographer’s dream.

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