Thursday, January 28, 2010

Heidelberg Canyon and a birthday

The other day I was on top of the hill looking down and saw something I hadn't seen before, reflecting off the sky and clouds...

I hiked into the canyon down a steep path that had been dug by a mysterious stranger. Nobody knows who's been digging these hiking trails but it's not the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the land preservation group that purchased this California black walnut grove in 2003.

To my surprise, someone had built a little way station for hikers. It's perched on a wooden platform and looks out onto a grove of black walnuts, where you can spot red-tailed hawks circling overhead.

Is it the same mysterious stranger who's been digging these trails traversing the canyon—not to be confused with the coyote trails—that picked this spot for a respite? Most likely it is.

 coyote trail

When my dogs Ghostie and Reyna died almost four years ago, I had this sensation that wherever I walked they were right there, walking beside me. I no longer have that feeling, but I still think of my dogs. We used to explore this canyon regularly. I wish they were with me now so I could take advantage of this little way station. I'd sit and read while my dogs, in the manner they were accustomed, grazed the hillside like goats. And my books? A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present, and Franny and Zooey. RIP, Mr. Zinn and Mr. Salinger.

Postscript: Today is my daughter's birthday and she's going to kill me but this is one of my favorite pictures of her as a child. Why? Because what she was here at two is exactly what she is today: tall, strong, determined (to get her bottle), brilliant, and an attitude that says, "Get out of my way world, here I come." That's my daughter and I love her madly. Happy Birthday Maya!


  1. Happy Birthday, Maya! Charlotte, this is a terrific post. I know what you mean about dog ghosts. Esau/Strider is my in-the-flesh walking companion, but Loup, Willie, Lucy, Shorty and Muggs go with us wherever we go.

  2. yes, that is Maya as she was and as she is! I also like the bandaids on her knees; not afraid to take a tumble.

    The mysterious way stations and your photos remind me of the Cinqueterre, little tables and chairs tucked into nooks and crannies of the steep mountain trail above the sea.

  3. Melissa, such a vivid image, you being trailed by your pack of ghost dogs!

    and Lu, those bandaids are what i love most about this pic...