Monday, September 6, 2010

life is what happens while you're making other plans

Whoever said that was certainly right. Early Friday morning Joe and I set out for a hike on Mt. Lemmon, hoping to avoid the holiday weekend crowds that would be sure to fill the trails (and trailhead parking spots) on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  We weren't too far up when Joe looked in the rearview mirror and saw smoke pouring from the rear of the car.  He pulled over as soon as he could, across from the entrance to the Gordon Hirabayashi campground/recreation site, a place we like very much during the cooler parts of the year when we can follow the trail that starts there and goes down to the Sycamore Reservoir.  But right now it's still too hot for lower-elevation trails like that one.

It was immediately apparent that we were leaking automatic transmission fluid.  It was red, like blood on the asphalt (well, not exactly, but there was a resemblance, and our beloved Forester was too wounded to go on just then). You don't have to go too far up Mt. Lemmon before losing cell phone reception; Joe set off to see if he could climb a hill and get a signal so he could call AAA for a tow truck, while I stayed with the car and hoped for help.
The entrance to the Gordon Hirabayashi campground/recreation area
A few people did stop, including a couple of very nice Forest Service employees. I gave them our AAA info and they called it in for us.  The other folks who stopped were also wonderful - when I said I was okay they all asked if I had water, which of course is essential in such circumstances!  What I didn't have was a timepiece, since I don't like to wear a watch, Joe had the cellphone, and I wasn't sure I should turn on the car.  I learned that I don't really have much sense of how much time is passing, though the stress of the situation may have exacerbated that failing. If I'd thought about it, I could have estimated by looking at the sun, but I didn't think about it, and so after a while I got worried about whether Joe would return before the tow truck arrived.  I amused myself by pacing back and forth, doing a few yoga stretches, reading a magazine (fortunately I seldom, if ever, go anywhere without something to read), and taking some photos, because even though I was in distress, I was also in a beautiful area.

It seems like most of the time we are in too great a hurry to notice, much less appreciate, the beauty that is literally at our feet - we'll stop and concentrate on a painting in a gallery, and maybe pay a great deal of money to hang it on our wall, when nature's compositions are more perfect.  Rupert Brooke's "Fragment on Painters" begins:
    There is an evil which that Race attaints
    Who represent God's World with oily paints,
    Who mock the Universe, so rare and sweet,
    With spots of colour on a canvas sheet....
As part of that "evil...Race," I have to agree - there's nothing like the real thing.

Look at this lovely grass with its feathery seedheads - if I found it in my yard I'd pull it out as a weed, yet nothing I plant is really any prettier.  When I ran the seedheads between my fingers they felt like silk and the ready seeds came off and floated away on their tiny wings.  If I changed the angle and spot from which I looked uphill, even though the rocks and trees and brush remained in place, my changed perspective provided a new inspiration.  I was wishing for art supplies but I only had my camera and so I shot dozens of pictures.

Joe got back just a few minutes before the tow truck arrived. We rode with our car down to the Subaru dealership, where we learned that they needed to order the hose that had failed, so for a few days we're driving a loaner car, a 2011 Outback, which is very nice, though bigger and heavier than anything we've ever owned. I like the way it feels and looks, though, and it's a beautiful shade of green.

Anyway, all's well that ends well.  The next day, Saturday, we did make it up the mountain, but this post is long enough already, so I'll give the computer and my fingers a rest and post about that later.

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