I know I don't usually post two days in a row, but yesterday's post was so very blah, and I remembered my camera this morning when I went for my walk, so I thought I'd try to do a better job.
Now that I don't have to be at work by a particular time (the grading is always there, waiting patiently, or lurking menacingly, depending on how I'm feeling at any given moment), I can take Tilly for a walk every morning, instead of just on my non-class mornings. A real walk, on a trail, instead of one around my neighborhood. Neighborhood walks are very nice, and I love seeing what people are up to, what they've changed and left the same in their yards, but I realized several years ago that one of the things that is a guaranteed to lift my mood is to get my feet on dirt. If I can get my feet on dirt with a dog in tow, I can get almost anything into perspective.
There's something about watching a dog on a walk, off-leash, out where they can run, that takes me out of myself. A walk without a dog is good, but it never feels quite the same as one with a dog. Watching my dogs functions for me very much the same way that breathing serves to pull my mind back into the moment when meditating, or doing yoga. Dogs generally aren't worried about what comes next, or about what just happened; they are focused on the ever-present now, and when my chattering monkey brain threatens to become overwhelming, when I find myself running conversations over and over in my head, or fretting about something I didn't do or something I need to do, watching my dogs joyfully paying attention to each new thing as it comes along is infectious. And there was a lot to see on the trail this morning.
The green grass is starting to show under the fall's dead brown; we had a little more rain this weekend, and everything is trying to grow while it can.
I think I mentioned the lovely red berries all over the place?
It felt almost like December; when I started walking, it was even cool enough to see my breath. Tilly was happy as a clam. I kept trying to get a picture of her happy face when she ran towards me (doing her best impression of a cannonball), but she moved too fast.
She looks like a fox, doesn't she? Maybe it's the tail.
The open space where I've been walking more lately has a lovely riparian habitat in it, and a small lake where the creek was dammed some time ago.
There are herons and coots and ducks and pelicans there, and tules grow along the edges. Someone cut a bunch of them back recently, and they're lying in piles on the dam. I mention this because when tules are retted, they produce a lovely soft fiber that Native Californians used for lots of things (even diapering babies), and I have wondered lately whether the fiber could be spun (it wasn't, traditionally). Hmmm...
And finally, on the way home, I took the picture I'd wanted to share with you. This makes me inordinately gleeful every year when it blooms.
It's a poinsettia tree. A tree. Maybe ten feet tall. And every year, right about now, it bursts into huge, exuberant poinsettia blooms. Until I moved here, I always thought of poinsettias as these little potted things that last about a month before dying. Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.
In knitting news, I finished the hat I was knitting for my brother-in-law, and after consultation with Rick, we've decided that I'm going to give him the set (hat and mittens) for his birthday in early January (he wants a camping lantern for Christmas), so I'll finish the second mitten later. This means that I've cast on to knit a pair of mitts for my niece for Christmas, which, with luck, won't take too long. Then I can make the call on the scarf for SIL versus shawl for aunt decision. My general theory is that as long as I can make a reasonable start on the shawl, I don't mind giving it to my aunt on Christmas day as a not-quite-finished promissary note, so my goal is to be working on it about a week before Christmas; this means that if I can finish the mitts quickly enough, I might be able to finish the scarf before starting the shawl. We'll see. Meanwhile, I'm off to grade...