When I have time to myself, one of the things I often prioritize is exercise. Over the past year and a half I have tried to incorporate it into my life in efforts to lead a healthier lifestyle. I think I walk a fine line between priority and obsession. Sometimes the desire to burn calories competes with the need to slow down my mind and take care of the most important muscle in my body. This inner battle caused Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve to move down the list of places to visit in recent months; the 1.7 mile loop known as Huckleberry Path didn’t seem challenging enough. The word “path” almost seems to denote leisure, as opposed to “trail” which feels more conducive to a stint of cardio. It took a bit of convincing but I eventually told myself that time in nature IS part of the healthy lifestyle I have worked to adopt. It doesn’t need to be a 5-mile hike; deep breaths of fresh air, fun with my camera, and a leisurely walk down into the forest and back up again were the perfect respite at end of the week.
Walks & Hikes
Knowland Park. It’s a place that many people think of for a moment as they pull into the Oakland Zoo. I never really understood what Knowland Park was all about, why it was part of the zoo. It is really the other way around; the zoo became part of it. It’s ironic that as the largest public park in Oakland, it is one of the least used. It is acreage named for a man who once owned our beloved Tribune, who built its tower, and who served our state parks for over twenty years. Knowland Park came to be as a way to honor a man who worked so hard to protect state land. As someone who loves to spend time in nature, my visit to this wild and open public space within our city limits was long overdue. As an Oakland Zoo member, I have been feeling conflicted about the hand it has been dealt as the zoo expands up the hillside, further into Knowland’s wild side. I thought my early morning visit to the hilltop would give me clarity, but as I have continued to read I still don’t seem to have it. I do know I have another place to visit when I need to take time to look for it further, on this issue…or any others that life hands out.
Hello Summer! Warm Days. Long Nights. The smell of the BBQ. Eating outside. Fingers sticky with watermelon; or an ice cream cone. There are so many things about the hottest of seasons that make memories so fond. Just last night my daughter and I enjoyed the longest day of the year taking a walk in flip-flops, picking blackberries, returning home to enjoy ice cream and slices of stone fruit pie on the back porch. As you look forward to these next couple of months, before Labor Day unofficially draws this time of year to a close, consider any one of the below as a great way to enjoy summertime right here in The Town. I know I will be crossing many of them off my own list, and hope to create lots more memories for the bank.
Sunday is Mother’s Day. Since I am the mother of two little ones, it is a day where I have a free pass to do as I please; to indulge, rest, rejuvenate, reflect. Since my kids are still young, they don’t quite understand that being on their best behavior and honoring all that their momma does for them are required for the day. So while I do plan to spend time enjoying their company, my true intention is to use this day to take care of me. Guess what? You certainly don’t have to be a mother to chose this for yourself. Furthermore, you certainly don’t need a special day of the year to do it. I try to find moments in time throughout busy days to take pause, to enjoy something as simple as a sound, smell, or sight. If I have more moments free that can be laced together to create “me” time, some of the below are at the top of my list for spending time to take care of me, my senses, my mind, myself. Oakland is full of ways to treat yourself…be inspired to do so, you deserve it.
A historic Oakland establishment is closing on April 30th. Genova Delicatessen has been in business in the Temescal District of Oakland since 1926. A loved spot by many, patrons have lined up amongst the aisles for decades, watching the numbers tick by until they could put in an order for their favorite Italian deli sandwich. Genova has been a testament to how a business can thrive for close to 100 years; good service, good food, and a dedication to old world Italian roots. I decided to make a final trip on Monday, to brave the wait with two small children, to order a #9, and to say thank you. It was perfectly apropos that as I tried to explain to my four year old that the deli was closing and that we needed to wait our turn, he said, “but when they close the doors, who is going to open them again?”
Today is Earth Day. As we honor the land, air, sea, and all that is our planet I choose to share pictures of the Serpentine Prairie in the Oakland Hills. Last weekend I spent some time wandering the prairie at dawn. The word prairie is something we typically associate with the endless grasslands of the Mississippi River Valley, but tucked in this corner of Redwood Regional Park we have our own little prairie, one that holds a flower that is unique to only two places in the world. While I was a bit early in the season to see the Presidio Clarkia in bloom, which grows only in the Serpentine Prairie and the Presidio of San Francisco, I was still able to enjoy the quiet, the color of the wildflowers, and to appreciate yet another amazing spot within our city limits. Named for the rock Serpentine, which is the state rock of California and found throughout this area, the Serpentine Prairie is yet another reason why I love Oakland.
I tend to romanticize the past. When life feels particularly hard, I daydream of a time when existence seemed simpler. I think of picnics on rolling green hillsides, a rocking chair on a porch, reading a book by a fire. I imagine children playing freely on a span of lawn, dinner from the garden in the evening, a carriage ride to the general store. I suppose I live in denial that I could be without internet, iPhones, and Instagram. Last Friday was one of those days when the end of a hard week was a welcome sight, and the urge to spend a few hours alone on the couch came beckoning. Instead I grabbed a cup of coffee and chose to spend some “me time” at a place I had read about yet never visited. I suppose it could have been my mindset, but as I wandered the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate, I couldn’t help but think how things seem to have been so much easier 100 years ago. I think I forgot that being a member of high society doesn’t hurt.
My hike through Oakland’s Dimond Canyon last week put me in a melancholy mood. It was unexpected. Walking the amazing trails of our urban wildlands is one of the things I love and appreciate about Oakland; it’s how I decompress and unwind. Getting over to Dimond Canyon had been on my local bucket list for quite some time; I have not walked the trail along Sausal Creek for as long as I can remember. It had been on my mind since I had heard of a local documentary being screened around town, Trailhead. After a couple of recent trips into the Oakmore neighborhood, crossing over the canyon on the historical Leimert Bridge, I was inspired to move it to the top of my list. It coincided perfectly with a screening of Trailhead I was able to attend last Thursday. So Friday morning, I was able to spend some time exploring the area, and my concern with how it’s being treated arose.