Rosy-Fingered Dawns

Thanksgiving could be a mixed bag at Zen Center. The food was always exceptional – the traditional nut roast with mushroom gravy was one of my favourite dishes, and there was always a variety of pies.  At Tassajara, the huge meal was one of the most special occasions in all the monastic winter months, with (usually) the rare treat of no evening zazen. I remember, one of the five Thanksgivings I was there, being totally immersed in some random gadget catalogue for hours, just because I didn’t have to be anywhere else.

At City Center, the big spread was sometimes on Thursdays, sometimes on Wednesday – some people wanted to have a totally free day on Thursday, others wanted the meal at the traditional time, and there were many guests from the wider sangha who had nowhere else they would rather be. The City Center weekend was, though, somewhat overshadowed by the beginning of Rohatsu sesshin on the Saturday evening, so when I was tenzo and ino, there wasn’t really much of a break, with the biggest retreat of the year needing to be organised.

Happily this year, I had very few engagements – and I declined to look at work emails – so I felt like I had two consecutive weekends. The dinner I was invited to was just a couple of blocks away, filled with lovely people I know through Zen Center, former and current residents, though we talked about many other things as well. 

The weather has got a little stuck – high pressure is keeping the rain at bay. There have been many glorious sunrises, clear days, and heavenly sunsets, with the moon receding each night in the sky. I actually got a little worried to see that no change was forecast. On the one hand, I love the sunny weather and, selfishly, as I am trying to make it down to Tassajara over the New Year, I would love the road not to be too treacherous. But we need the rain so much, and the fire prospects for next year are already about as depressing as the newest variant.

Still, I was getting in the miles and the hours outside while the sun was shining, with rides on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, a couple of walks, and a roam. This last was another really lovely outing, following the Tennessee Hollow watershed in the Presidio from the ridge to the beach, and encountering frogs, hawks, pelicans, and a coyote along the way – and then I saw another in the park while I was riding home. I think that is my first double same-day sighting in the city, and followed from catching a glimpse of one when I was on Sweeney Ridge on my Friday ride. Most auspicious.

This week I am slowly picking up all the threads of work again, and hope that I can turn up two negative tests which will allow me to attend the City Center shuso ceremony on Saturday in person.

First light at Bernal Hill on Thanksgiving morning.
Up at Sweeney Ridge on Friday morning.
Walking along the Bay Trail in the East Bay on Friday afternoon.
The first sun at the bridge on Sunday morning.
Across to Ocean Beach on the same ride.
Newly restored Quartermaster Reach during the roam on Sunday.
A handsome coyote on the ridge in the Presidio at the end of the roam.

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