Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I make a point to stop along my daily bike commute take in the details of the world we live in. Every day there something new, or something old and usual that sparkles in new light. In the good season, there's an old lady sitting on the porch of her trailer. Sometimes she knits, always wrapped up in a heavy winter coats. She's there when I bike by in the morning, she's there when I come back in the afternoon. More than once I have seen vultures praying, sitting on top of a pole spreading their wings to salute the sun.

Sometimes I take pictures, never enough, I never seem to have my camera when something cool happens. I love bicycling as it renew the physical contact with the outside, something that most car drivers have long forgot, anesthetized in their airtight cabs, their brain stunned by bubblegum muzak. How much do they miss of their lives?

Today I was flying down the bike path, wind in my favor, when I saw a cyclist, stopped on the side of the narrow ribbon of asphalt that crosses the once glorious Goleta slough. I glanced in passing to figure out what he was looking at, and soon I was braking and doing a quick about-face. Non two yards from the bike path, two gopher snakes were mating, dancing, the entwined lovers moved slowly in the grass, twisting more and more around each other, their tongues flicking, looking for each other. I had never seen anything like that "live". Beautiful, and surprisingly tender, in an unexpectedly wild way. Soon people started to stop and see what was going on, observing at a distance, talking about their own reptilian encounters. Try doing that on 101.

But the biggest difference is in feeling truly alive, our hunting genes being satisfied by the physical exertion, our natural curiosity by the sheet beauty of every day's discovery.
"I never feel that I am inspired unless my body is also. It too spurns a tame and commonplace life. They are fatally mistaken who think, while they strive with their minds, that they may suffer their bodies to stagnate in luxury or sloth. A man thinks as well through his legs and arms as his brain." -- Henry David Thoreau

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