February on the Mountain

Jerry Bolick shares a recent Buckeye Canyon moment - one of his many ventures into Owl and Buckeye Canyons over the years. A Brisbane resident, husband, father, grandfather, backpacker, hiker - Jerry is also a long-time San Bruno Mountain Watch supporter and volunteer. Visit Jerry's blog - Meditations from the Slow Lane - his personal writings from a life explored through Buddha Dharma and poetry.


Hiking Buckeye Canyon this morning, up into the oaks behind the shell mound, at one of the many sharp turns away from the bay, I come upon what appears to be a small garden plot of hummingbird sage, iris and bee plant, all pushed up from under ground, but not yet in bloom. It reminds me of another such garden at Carson Pass in the Sierra, late one July, vast swaths of fully blooming flora, dotted with black volcanic rocks and butterflies. It was as if someone had cultivated a front yard patch right there, thousands of feet in thinning air.

And maybe so.

Further up the trail in Buckeye, there’s a heavy plank off to the side on some rocks. In front of the plank, in front of where you place your feet to rest, another garden pushes up. And in front of that, an open view.

Rumor has it, David Schooley had something to do with this. When I asked him though, he gave one of those little half smiles, suggested with twinkling eyes that he was going to answer, but somehow didn’t say anything—like some Tao mountain poet, he links arms with a passing cloud and drifts away to one of those hidden ravines he writes about. 

The view is of the hills across the valley. These used to be the open grassland home to mission blue butterflies—long before that, sea bluffs—and even further back, ancient sea beds. Now, someone cultivates condominiums here.

Love has a lot to do with what we who love this mountain do to protect it. And love has many faces, many forms—from determined, deliberate action, to quiet presence, to simply saying a name out loud. And each effort, every gesture has its own weight, carries its own healing influence forward, even if, even when we can’t tell the extent of its reach.

Along with the rest already said, I say: running streams, robin, hawk and crow. I say, mud-slick trails, wild cucumber, San Francisco wallflower. I say, San Bruno Mountain.

What do you say?