When I walk out of the house, I face two giant oak trees across the street. This was once known as Oak Hill. I scan the oaks' branches for birds and squirrels. Something is usually up there saying hello.
When I walk out, I look left. Up the street. That's the south, about fifteen miles from California. Evergreens hide the mountains. Snow coats the evergreens today.
After looking left, I turn right and look north, straight ahead, to the other side of the valley. Vineyards rule. Green dominates in the spring, fading to brown before we declare summer's arrival. Snow is back today. As though drawn by a drunk, the snow line wanders but it's about 4500 feet.
Going down the street, I descend to Highway 99, Siskiyou Avenue. It rolls straight into downtown. In can see the yellow Ashland Springs Hotel, our tallest building, down on Main Street, about a mile and a half away.
The six usual runners go by, singletons pursuing private goals, spaced at irregular intervals. They're the same six every day, nodding at me as they chuff by. Each has a different running style but the weather never stops them. I wonder if they know each other. I wonder if they think of me as I think of them. I wonder what they think about as they run.
I live, they say, on the south end of the town, where the mountains pinch the valley closed and Interstate 5 climbs up over the pass to descend into California. After heading for the summit, Mount Shasta watches your descent. It's my favorite part of the drive into California.
I'm not going to California today and I'm not driving. I walk west northwest toward The Beanery. The way is straight. The traffic is always light.
I usually cross Siskiyou at Walker and descend further down. The weather changes with the distance and elevation changes. It's warm some days at my house while it'll be icy by the coffee shop. Summer will be welcomed as the warmth spreads an even layer of warmth and sunshine over my trails. Until then, dressing for the weather is a test that I usually fail.
When I walk home, it's mostly uphill, back up all those elevation changes. I push myself to keep my stride brisk and arrive home having to pee and drenched in sweat.
When I walk, I think about many things. Besides the things I see, I think of the stories passsing through me. I think of the people I've known and the things that I've done, and the things that I desire to do. I remember other walks and other places, and I think about why I like to walk, alone with my stride and my thoughts.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com