First Footing

The Robert Burns quote most apposite for my new year would not be the ‘Auld Lang Syne’ one, but rather the ‘best laid plans…’

The 30th was a bright and clear day after all the rain, and while it was tempting to squeeze in a short ride before I left, I made sure I had taken care of some odds and ends instead. Four of us were going down from City Center to Tassajara; the other three were all returning for the practice period, and included the incoming tenzo and the outgoing fukaten. I enjoyed hearing their dharma bios, and having the sense of them as settled in their practice – demonstrating what Suzuki Roshi called composure, or constancy.

Traffic was heavy along various stretches of the 101 – and this was midweek, in the middle of the day. I always feel glad that my life does not involve this kind of driving on anything like a regular basis. We were in the hills north of Salinas when Leslie got in touch to say that, while the county crew had taken one tree out, when people had tried to leave Tassajara earlier, they found the tree that had blocked their way before still there – the crew had not gone as far up the road as requested. So there was no way in, we would have to turn around and perhaps, after the crew returned in the morning, it would be possible to try again.

We drove the couple of hours back to San Francisco. I figured that as my planned stay was not very long, and the work I was supposed to do not urgent, there was not so much point trying again the next day. So I had that happy buoyancy, as I walked back to my place, of having some unexpected free time.

As it turned out, after getting some unwelcome news, I found it hard to get motivated at all the next day. I went out on my bike mid-morning, but while the light was radiant, my spirit was not. It didn’t seem a hardship to go to bed early, and get up to repeat my early morning New Year’s Day ride, where I take roads that are usually too busy to feel safe on. I made it over to the bay for the sunrise – there were a number of people on the Embarcadero with the same idea – then across to the ocean.

Apart from some spontaneous exchanges with people – in that way that people are more relaxed and open over the holidays – what lifted my mood was tackling my large backlog of unedited photos from the past year. I had about 2500 to work through, and had planned to spend some time at Tassajara doing that. My eyes went square in the process, but I was happy to get it done over the course of three days, and I also discovered a way to process some of the phone camera photos in a way that made them a little less bland.

I rode on Sunday as well, as temperatures dropped towards freezing – a rarity in the Bay Area. There was frost on the cemetery lawns in Colma, and on the roofs of San Bruno. I had intended to take the reservoir trail, but it had been closed due to flooding, so I had to reprise the alternative route I got used to after the fires of 2020.

With the photos done – though I will go through the finished folder to select my favourites from the year – I can turn my attention to my dharma talk on Wednesday, which I had also planned to think about while I was at Tassajara, and make sure I am up to speed for the first class on Saturday.

The first sunrise of 2022.
Above Ocean Beach.
By way of contrast, a silimar view from the roam on the 26th.

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