By the strength of my own arms

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In this day of crowded flights and eternal commutes, it is refreshing to get somewhere by the mere strength of your limbs. Canoeing eight miles out to the barrier islands off the Florida Everglades felt like exploring another world. I couldn’t help but be amazed and inspired by the fact that we managed to get four people, three days worth of food and water, and enough gear to provide clothing and shelter for us all out to these uninhabited islands without so much as a drop of gasoline.

As we paddled through increasingly choppy waves the last hour of our first day, I suddenly felt a new awe for those explorers who—before sailboats, steamships, compasses or even GPS—loaded up friends, family and supplies onto outriggers and canoes and headed deep into the wide unknown sea to find new places. They must have been incredibly brave. They also probably had amazing abs. 😉

In the garden of Gnome

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OK, I guess one would be hard-pressed to call my back staircase a garden. But we must make do with what we have. And though the view is only of my neighbor’s adjacent building, this is San Francisco after all, having a bench seat for one and a pocket of sunshine just off my kitchen is truly a joy.

When it’s not raining and storming like today, I sit and have my morning coffee with Gnome. We stare blissfully at our pots of succulents and herbs, as if they were the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

We have great plans for our little space, which we plan to fill until we all but crowd ourselves out. We’ll have hanging plants and boxed plants and plants mounted on the walls in burlap sacks …

But for now, nous somme content. And that is the whole point of this little “garden” after all.

Reach out and touch some sun.

It’s sealed: Welcome, New Year

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It’s become an annual pilgrimage, the mating of the elephant seals. For the second year in a row, my dear friend Tony and I have followed a guide around the dunes of Ano Nuevo State Park and marveled at the sights and sounds of these wild, cumbersome and bizarrely shaped creatures.

I am enamored of any mammal that can plumb the depths of the sea. (Jealous might be a better word for it.) I can only go to a hundred forty or so feet, and these days I rarely go near that deep.

These Northern Elephant seals spend all but a few months of the year far out in the ocean, never sleeping, and diving hour after hour from the surface of the waves to beyond the reach of the light. Down, down, down they go, thousands of feet, to feast in the darkness below, the depths to which you or I could never go .. At once a nightmare and a dream.

A Northern Elephant seal sunbathes solo on the beach.