Thursday, July 07, 2005

Evening Walks

When Debra took her first PE class at Pepperdine, she told me about a park across the street from Pepperdine, right above the ocean. Its name, Michael Landon Park, conjures memories of a man I watched on TV much of my life. An actor who stood for much of what is good in this world. Debra is moving back to Texas within the week - so we are doing our last things here. I had always wanted to see this area - so tonight after dinner we decided to take a sunset walk.

There is much that I like about the end of the day. For one thing, it gets cool. For another the clouds and the sky go through a sequence of lovely colors as the rays from the sun slowly recede into the west, and twilight invades from the east. We started our walk after the sun was behind a mountain, but before its last rays had left the mountains. From the PCH, Michael Landon Park looks pretty civilized - baseball fields, soccer fields, a community center. But after you park the car and head off onto one of the narrow footpaths - you have entered a wild area. The footpath is well beaten, but just wide enough for your legs and feet. In many places the plants brush against your legs as you go through the brush. Little birds scurry away in the underbrush. As we headed out to our right was Pepperdine University and the Santa Monica mountains. In front was this grassy moor area. And on our left the calm Pacific with a cloud bank in the distance and the varied colors of the evening sky. At one point on the walk I looked back - the view of Pepperdine was beautiful. The highway was hidden. The wild area contrasted with the green manicured lawn with its scattered trees in a beautiful mosaic. The evening lights of Pepperdine showcased the beauty of its buildings.

At one part of the walk, there was a path that was severely erroded by this last winter's storms. It leads down to a road filled with houses that sit directly on the beach. We could see and hear the breakers come in and crash in front of the houses. Debra said some people still take this, but I told her this was the kind of trail I would much rather go up than down. Very rocky and rough where a new gully had been carved where once there was a smooth path. So we went on and followed the cliff line, stopping to look over to the lingering glow in the west, to search the water for life, and to see the approaching darker blues in the east.

As we walked the trail, there were evidences of wildlife - the calls and trills of unseen birds, an occasional rabbit, and coyote scat. When the trail turned uphill again, I was pleased that my three months of working out at Curves have had an impact on my stamina. Although the hill was not steep, it was uphill and I managed to make it up at a reasonable speed with a minimum of stops. That in and of itself was a small victory.

When we got past the wild area and back into the soccer and baseball fields, there were rabbits everywhere you looked. The babies were so precious, innocent, and more trusting than the adults. But, even so, when you got too close, they scampered away. As the twilight deepened, you could see them in the manicured lawns, under the trees, and right along the brush line that forms the border into the "wild lands." Under the tree, one rabbit was definitely trying to appear like a rock - he was very still with his ears pinned back against his body - so rockshaped, you had to look twice to be sure it was a rabbit - but his eyes were obviously watching our every move. Another was more on alert, ears up listening intently, with a posture ready to run.

There are a couple of areas to sit and look over the water - one with telescopes and a whale tale shaped seating area, one with picnic tables. We stopped at each one briefly to soak in the beauty and tranquility of the scene.

I like the end of the day outside. There is a quiet calm before night comes. And this evening walk combined natural beauty, wildlife, and a renewed joy of a better fitness level.

I will sleep well tonight.

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