My Place

and a little bit of happiness snuck in and surprised me.

She told me she was pregnant. I’m still not proud of how I responded:? jaw slightly open, staring across the room at her, a million thoughts running through my head.

One of them was, “I just lost my adventure partner”.

Happiness at Camp Tequila Mockingbird Happy Hour, Spring 2009

She had been my wing-man for the past several years. Both of us managing teams at jobs we cared about, meeting for food nerding, wine and journal time at Soif after a long day’s work. We planned trips together. My other friends called her my “wife-y” because I always checked in with her before making other plans.

That was all about to change.

I started putting her at an arms length, looking for new friends to hang out with and new activities to do. After a few months I noticed I was doing it, and screwed up the courage to talk with her about it. We’d decided to spontaneously grab an early dinner in Davenport and then take our chairs to the beach to knit and watch the sunset.? As the sky turned tangerine I took a deep breath and asked my big question. Did she plan to be my friend for the long haul – through thick and thin and all the changes to come? Yes, she said, she did. She wanted me to be part of her life. She wanted me to be part of this baby’s life.? We reached our hands out across the sand and held them for a long stretch, teary eyed.? I began to find my way back to her.

And we keep finding our way toward each other.? She honored me by asking me to support her birth. We adventured together again taking the 4 month old Bean to her second Strawberry Music Festival (the first was in utero). She shared that its likely Stella will tell me things she won’t tell her, and that will be hard for her but she’ll be glad it’ll be me her girl will talk to.? She makes time for dates when she can in between being an amazing mom and starting to develop her new career.? She is always there when I need a shoulder to cry on.? She and the Bean come downtown and spring me from the office for ice cream or a library visit on my afternoon break. And now that the Bean is getting older, I am beginning to enjoy the opportunity to spend more one on one time with her.

Last week while her folks attended a family CPR class she and I hung out for the morning. Sunny though it was she wanted to go on a walk with her polka dot umbrella. Our walk ended playing in the back of my VW camper van.? Caught between needing to feed her lunch and realizing extrication was impossible, I posed the idea of a picnic lunch in the van. It worked: we ran in and grabbed fingery foods and brought them back outside and ate on a flowery sarong spread out on the bed in the back.

After thirty minutes of exploring and emptying every cupboard in the back, she hopped in the drivers seat and grabbed the wheel.? She pointed to the stereo hopefully. I asked if she wanted music and she nodded “yup!”.? I popped in a CD and she smiled big, grooved on her buns a bit and worked the wheel while the sun streamed in all over her golden hair.? The world opened up to me then. My heart swelled and sang. I could see us in the future in exactly that set up, but with her limbed out, gorgeous, still flashing that devilish smile, driving us somewhere fun, chatting up mom who’s smiling in the back.

I realized after all my fear I hadn’t lost an adventure partner, but gained one.

She’s just in development.

“The truth is, friendship is every bit as sacred and eternal as marriage.”????? ~ Katherine Mansfield

My beautiful man is mine no longer.

There is more here than I can say.

So much joy in our time together.  Such grief in the parting.

See now, I hold out my hands and roll them open, palms up to the sky.

Fly well my friend.

It is not down on any map;
true places never are.
~ Herman Melville

I sometimes wonder if I were to quiz every person in the world, how many would call themselves an outdoor person, and how many would turn their nose up at the idea and insist they are definitely an indoor person? When looking at the portrayal of people and their need for consumer goods in the media, and how many people populate the larger towns and cities across the globe, I can imagine there may be more indoor folk than the former.

It’s a shame really, but in a way that’s what the internet is for, to educate people about the merits of keeping in touch with nature, and the benefits even a brief hike in a nearby park can have to yours and the environments well-being. It certainly never hurts to look away from your Facebook app and games long enough to consider the possibilities. What is it about the great outdoors and the environment in general which is so important to so many of us? And how can you alter your own life to spend more time appreciating its beauty and natural wonder?

Small gestures are the best way to start.


Taking the time to recycle what you can around the house is a great way to start your journey back to nature. Many people do not understand the significance of recycling bottles, plastic, cans and the like, but better to recycle today and see the world tomorrow, than to ignore it and lose the opportunity.

A walk in the park

Get out there with your walking boots. Even if you settle for a stroll in the park, you can still settle down on the grass and take a few moments to really appreciate the birds flitting through the sky, and the squirrels jumping from tree to tree. It’s amazing what you miss after all, when you’re too consumed with your own life to look around you.

Hiking in the woods

You might even find that a hike in the woods will put your everyday problems into perspective, remind you there are more living creatures than the human race, and their presence in the world is proof that your problems could always be worse. Do a little research into the countryside where you live and take a trek up to the highest peak. The views which are untainted by us are breathtaking.

My word of the year for 2012 was “Flight” and/or “Fly” depending on the application.

It came to me when the Swainson’s Thrushes at Esalen confirmed I’d earned my wings after years of working toward a real, satisfied, quiet, all my own kinda happiness.

Joyous with the news, I leaned off the ledge into the wind and did fly straight through this year; breathing deep at the birth of Sydney Morgan, dancing into the arms of a wonderful man, flying over the ridges of some of Sierra’s highest passes, and letting the love of my family (blood and chosen) land deeper into my own mysterious heart.

I crossed a few things off my bucket list too. What about you?

k?s bucket list ~ started early 2008

1. speak spanish

2. scrub out a mean jig on the fiddle

3. ?.in a country pub in ireland

4. play a sweet finger pickin song on guitar

5. dance a tango in argentina (well)

6. snow camp for at least one night

7. write a living trust

8. live off the grid in the country

9. ?.with chickens

10. live one month in a big city

11. take a sabbatical per work decade 40 50 60

12. whisper love poetry in french and know what it means

13. know about clouds

14. enjoy a handstand off the wall

15. down dog to utanasana in one hop

16. get a financial coach and stick to a plan for 3 months (savings goal?)

17. create and use my own website 2008

18. reduce my home eco-footprint each year

19. sit one week silent 2009 w Dona

20. meander the backcountry a month JMT2012

21. backpack the Adirondacks in Fall

22. hike chalet to chalet (alps? china?)

23. marry a true companion

24. remodel an old house

25. secure a large foundation grant for some good work

26. eat and flirt my way through italy

27. train and sketch through europe

28. sun my buns a week in greece

29. get high by foot in patagonia

30. be wide eyed at an east coast fall 2011 mom

31. make love outdoors, slowly 2009 worth repeating!

32. backpack the desert

33. ?.and drink from a tinaja

34. look out from the deck of a ship to no horizon for a day and a night

35. swim with a turtle or a dolphin or a whale

36. have at least a weeklong affair with a wild river via raft

37. knit a sweater that i love

38. trail a vegan diet for one month

39. experience easeful full pigeon pose

40. see the sacred plains grouse spiral dance

41. take six months off before retiring

42. photograph myself daily 365 days and post (?)

43. stay up all night somewhere dark, sober and curious

44. cook and eat wild mushrooms i harvested 2011

45. a fiddlehead fern too 2011

46. see what?s up whitehouse canyon

47. ?.and that amazing drainage across from Scarconi road on highway1: Majors Canyon

48. summit Half Dome (how about the Hermit?)

49. live in a house with a radiant heated earthen floor

50. give and receive intimate watsu tenderness with a lover 2009 Thanks Robby!

51. spend one month in retreat (yoga or meditation)

52. see the northern lights

53. experience complete abandon in lovemaking 2009

54. edible or native landscape my yard (or both) 2012=back!

55. get messy in esalen?s art barn 2010

56. sit at tassajara zen center and eat their famous bread with a quiet smile 2010

57. lay in the center of an oak grove meadow of wildflowers near ft. hunter liggett 2012 Ventana Wilderness Alliance

58. write and read my stuff in a poetry workshop

59. dance in a flock of fireflies

60. meet all of natascha?s immediate family

61. row across the Monterey Bay

62. backpack the Ohlone Regional Wilderness Trail 2009 Heather

63. learn how to tell at least one good joke well

64. hike the backside of Diablo 2010

65. make a painting on a canvas that I love 2010 w Dona,Kyrrha

66. hang out at 170 pounds again, at least for a few months 2012

67. help my kids financially with their young adult dreams

68. ensure each kid gets one tracking camp experience

69. visit half the places on my Trinities/Warners wish list

70. hike the JMT 2012

71. tube down a river 2011 in Lyons at Rockygrass

72. backpack the Lost Coast

73. eat Mole in Oaxaca on dia de los Muertos

74. sleep out on Angel Island overnight with a view of the City 2010 with Debo

75. experience a human birth 2011 Stella bean thank you Dona!,

2012 Sydney Morgan thank you Heather and Pete

76. experience a human death

77. mineralize myself in the Travertine Hot Springs or other Eastern Sierra wonders

78. glissade down a sunny sparkling blue sky day snow hill

79. get a tattoo

80. hardwood floor my current home

81. write a clear vision for my EA purpose and being and manifest that.

82. Pilgrimage a week on el Camino de Santiago de Compostela

83. Run a Half Marathon in the hills

84. Learn the Ventanas like Blair knows the Trinities

85. Gape at the Cutthroat Trout spawn in Yellowstone

86. Dive and swirl in ocean night?s phosphorescence

87. Duck under the aqua magic of Havasu falls

What else? What will my word of the year for 2013 be? What will yours?

What will I cross off this list before again the year turns?

It seems as if I am in the early fall of my life; Harvest. Ripeness. Just on this older side of 40.

But it again could be winter, not knowing like any of us when this season of Kirsten will end.

Wherever it ends up being though, and cold enough out it is, it feels, inside.? like.?? spring.

Stole him away from harvest for a weekend stay over at Shell Beach, delux din at Ventana Grill in Pismo, and 80 degree play day in Avila.? Dreamy scenic dirt road drive home, windows down, signing at the top of our lungs and breathing in the trees of See Canyon. Cresting the ridge the sky opened into a wide vast blue. He stopped the truck in the middle of the blind corner one-lane road and put the flashers on. Smiling, coaxing me out to finally stand there in his arms – our hearts flying with the hawks through the big air over the canyon, over the roundy hills, out to sea.

Sweet threesome with the tallest of the Nine Sisters, we scramble and skin knees shimmying up the knobby heights of Bishop’s Peak, hearts kathumping with the drop off on either side, California and her rolling hills laid out all around, so sweet in the sunset light we must launch off the top and just fly down the hill toward home. Dark night drive after a bellyfull at Docksiders, oysters in the back for tomorrow. Sunday’s football (we’re in America of course) and vineyard runs and office romps and another late night BBQ’d feast after a lazy lounge in the sunny patio swing. Night sky walk to end the weekend, catch minty stink bugs on the high dry dock and name the shapes in clouds, oak tree silhouettes. The moonlight makes pearls of us in the hot tub, diamonds of the sprinklers we run through later. And a sweet little flip flop love poem to end this.

Today we enjoyed an afternoon tea courtesy of the Friends of State Parks and the staff and volunteer docents of Wilder Ranch.

A delightful time, we arrived to seating in the shade on the sunny 70 degree front lawn of the Meder House.? We were served lemonade and invited to enjoy some lawn games, including horseshoes, at which we were all equally unimpressive in our talents, and croquet, upon which time we realized Natascha had found her sport.

Pressed by the heat and excitement of the games, we moved inside to tea and a round of parlor games.

As etiquette dictated, we engaged in soothing conversation only, avoiding politics and scandal and stayed safely in the territory of loveliness of the current the weather and our recent vacations.? The docents shared the history of the ranch and how life was during the 1900s.? As a helpful hint, here are some things to keep in mind for your next afternoon tea opportunity:

– Do not stir your tea, with your tea spoon, in sweeping circular motions. Place your tea spoon at the six o’clock position and softly fold the liquid towards the twelve o’clock position two or three times.
– Never leave your tea spoon in your tea cup. When not in use, place your tea spoon on the right side of the tea saucer.
– Never wave or hold your tea cup in the air. When not in use, place the tea cup back in the tea saucer.

Following tea we enjoyed a tour of the historic Meder and Wilder Ranch Victorians and were inspired by their loveliness and practicality.

Barbara worked the player piano in the parlor so we could take a spin.

I so enjoyed the day with my lovely lady friends and my mom.

The full set of our still pictures from the day may be enjoyed here. I know I will enjoy reflecting back on this lovely afternoon for awhile yet to come.

They’ll be auctioning another Afternoon Tea off on October 20th at the Wilder Ranch Heritage Harvest Festival where you can also savor heritage apple tasting, carve pumpkins, and make corn husk dolls. Stop on by!

Wait on a bench outside to watch him motor up your drive for the first time.? After he arrives, take him for a walk through the dusk to the beach filling up with stars and a few families shooting off the last of the weekends fireworks and sparklers.? Come home to tea and talk that goes on late into the night. Forget your cups until the morning.

Take him on your favorite hike up the coast, from the creek through redwoods and out into the sunny blue views north and south. Feed him the first early huckleberry you see. Promise to bring him back in the fall when they are ripe.

Let him find you a frog.

Notice the magic of the afternoon light as it comes in sideways through the forest, each slanting glance slowing your steps and breath down to a whisper. Duck out to an overlook to avoid chatty hikers coming up from the rear. Join his perch on a rock over the coastal terraces, listening to the ocean far below and the sweet, lazy breeze dance through the fir trees up the slope. Watch him taking all this in just as it is.

Drive homeward past red tails perch-hunting on power poles while the fog shadows chasing you south paint contrasting lines on the landscape. Stop at the Roadhouse for a beer, a beet salad and scallops in a corn basil sauce. Talk face to face across the table, unexpectedly shy after the day’s side by side conversation. Let him hold your hand and smile, not looking away, as you say that. Let the exquisite night, and all that follows, unfold from there.

Send him this post of happiness, too, so he remembers it was real.

On Tuesday, just 36 hours away, Peter and Donna will pick me up for our 31 day hike on the John Muir Trail. But the hike really started years ago, when Leisyka and I dreamed of going, then invited Donna to join. It started when Donna agreed to go and became our trip leader in itinerary planning and answering all-questions-gear-and-food related.

It started here when I began hauling heavier packs all around my neighborhood and bouncing up and down my harbor steps with Lauren Hill in my ear.

It started here when I began dehydrating most of the food I will eat in those 5 weeks.

It started here as I weighed all my existing gear and got some new stuff to lighten the load.

It started here when I spent two straight days packaging and organizing my food into 15 one-gallon ziplock bags.

It started here when I went to Donnas to pack our resupply boxes and double check our food inventories to be sure we had captured everything, then headed to the post office with a “phew!” to get that shipment in the mail to 3 backcountry ranches and a mule packer who will meet us at Big Sandy Flat where the Kearsarge trail meets the JMT.

In the next day I’ll be wrapping up a few last minute packing things, and lots of other tasks to set life in order before I leave. I am reflecting with a grateful heart for a few folks who really helped me get myself ready for this. Donna Thomas, of course, and Martha Jordan (rolfer), Maya Lev (yoga guru),? Jocelyn Dubin (nutritionist), and Shelly and Nick at Downworks.

Be sure to get outside in July, sometime around dusk. Watch the colors change on whatever surfaces are around you. Send a quiet evening thought my way, because chances are, I’ll be looking at the same sunlight up there and thinking about you, too.

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