Yesterday was a day to be gotten through. It was a day that I wanted to not think about and just keep busy and have it tick by. It was three years ago that my dad died. Making dinner last night was when I opened my mind to the memories of him, not just remembering the sadness and the terribly difficult year of his illness. As I put together a casserole that was a combination of several recipes, I thought about how much my dad liked to cook and more importantly how much he loved to feed people.
Today I felt relieved to be past that anniversary. I went to Fernwood to visit my dad’s gravesite and then to take a hike. I don’t feel the urge to go as frequently as I did, especially the first year. But I do miss it if I haven’t gone for a few months. As usual I sang a bit and cried a bit and talked to my dad a bit. It was cold and foggy and fairly windy.
Leaving Fernwood I drove a short distance to the Tennessee Valley trail-head, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. I’ve always enjoyed the 1.7 mile walk to Tennessee Cove with it’s little beach, named for the wreck of the S.S. Tennessee. Looking at a map of the trails in the area, I decided to do something more challenging instead and take a trail I’d never hiked before.
The map showed a 5-mile loop that included a gain of 920 feet of elevation: the Miwok Trail to Coyote Ridge to Fox Trail which led back to the Tennessee Valley trail and back to the parking lot at the trail-head.
In spite of the drought, these coastal hills still have plenty of green vegetation. The fog was heavy enough that eucalyptus and pine trees were dripping. Amidst the low scrubby brush there were bright spots of colorful wildflowers. I saw flowers in deep purple, bright red-orange, yellow, and several shades of bright pink.
Certain colors make me think of my dad, and I smiled when I noticed the vivid magenta and fuschia blossoms because I can hear him saying “my-yhenta” in his “Spanglish” accent.
As I hiked uphill, I was hiking into fog. It was cold, windy and damp but I was warm from the exertion. Going upwards into the fog made me think of climbing into clouds. The sky had come down to meet the hills I was climbing and it made me feel closer to my dad. I haven’t really worked out all my feelings about heaven but today with the low visibility and wet air, fragrant with salt and sage, for a brief time it felt like I could be near the very outer-most fringes of heaven.
I had to stop and catch my breath as other hikers walked past me. I thought about my idea. I knew that the low hills were really not that close to the heavens and I also knew that a cold, wet, foggy trail wasn’t really my idea of heaven. I reached the highest point of my hike. Veils of fog revealed very little view of the trial looking ahead or looking back; at times only 75 or 100 feet could be seen.
Suddenly, I had a picture in my mind of my father’s back, hiking ahead. It was an image from when we were younger as he was wearing the straw hat decorated with a feather that he used to wear on picnic excursions and camping trips, not the hiking hat or baseball cap of more recent years.
With this hat and this feather.
Hiking ahead, as usual (though this is Molly, not Henry).
He was hiking along with one of the walking sticks he carved with his pocket knife. He was walking Henry, my parents’ Tibetan Terrier that they had before Molly, and I found the picture very comforting. It also made me cry a little bit, but mostly I felt solace. I looked ahead on the foggy trail and thought to myself, “Yup, he’s up ahead.”
Thank you for your visit.