An Ode to Dried Mud

To me it is splendid that mud dries the way it does because of its physics and chemistry. And as it dries it briefly preserves the scant piece of Earth history to which it was witness.

Characteristic cracks.

Characteristic cracks.

A moment of earth's history, captured for another moment.

A leaf fell. A dog ran.

Howls at Sunrise

First light on a spring morning at Griffith Park.

Last spring I started going for hikes at sunrise, on a trail at Griffith Park that provides spectacular views of Los Angeles. As a hike progressed I could watch the city lights fade and see the rising sun gleam in distant high-rise windows. The cliffs and chaparral in the Park were shadows that slowly grew more distinct in that golden light that only comes at dawn. I knew when the sun was about to crest the horizon because that is when so many birds began to sing.

Trail at Dawn

An empty trail just after sunrise.

These hikes quickly became my favorite pastime. I couldn’t convince friends or family that they were worth the excessively early rising, so I went by myself. I feel safe hiking solo at Griffith Park because I stick to the popular trails and there are always people around.   As spring headed for summer, dawn came earlier, and I started my hikes earlier to accommodate. I assumed that the other early hikers were also there for the sunrise. But apparently they were just – early hikers, and they didn’t keep adjusting arrival time to match the sunrise. One morning  I discovered I was the only one around.  No cars.  No other hikers.  No dogwalkers. No park guys doing clean up.

I started out and the view was beautiful but I didn’t enjoy it.  I became preoccupied with the darkness behind me and the hills full of critters that might be watching me. The darkness thinned but still no one else was around. I decided to return to my car until other humans materialized. As I headed back, with relief I saw a jogger approaching.  We exchanged the usual good mornings and then as he passed me he asked with gusto, “Did you hear me howl?”

I had not.

“Aw-wuh!” He was disappointed but fortunately he kept going. A few minutes later, I could hear human howls echoing from deep back in the hills. Probably  he was harmless but I greeted the next hikers I passed with considerable enthusiasm.

I decided the moral of this story should be go later or bring the dog and that is what I have done since.