This proverb typically refers to the month of March and the official beginning of spring. At the beginning of March, winter is still roaring and by the end you have gentle spring. It is now mid April and as of yesterday we were still getting winter storms bringing trees down across my road. In any given winter in California, especially after four years of drought if one complains about rain, one is bound to hear, “Ah, yes, but we need the rain, so…” Not so this year. The drought is over, we are all saturated and out of firewood. Whoever is in charge, you may turn off the tap now.
And yet, there are signs that spring is coming. There are days of sunshine in between storms. We can wear fewer layers while skiing in Tahoe. Big snow packs mean lots of flowers at lower elevations. The Washington Post declared that the deserts of California are experiencing a superbloom that is visible from space. How cool is that? There are so many flowers that you can see mother nature donning her cloak of reds, golds, and purples all the way in outer space.
A few weeks ago the gang from the Santa Cruz track club decided to make road trip down south to do a 13 mile trail run at Montana de Oro (Mountain of Gold) in San Luis Obispo county. Our car decided to take the round about way in search of wildflowers. We found them. We frolicked. Rolling around on your back in a field of flowers, wriggling like an ecstatic puppy is the perfect antidote to a long, wet winter. There were actually cars lining the little country road. Everyone wanted to see the flowers. There were photographers, lovers strolling hand in hand, groups who had set up lawn chairs to just sit and soak it up, picnic makers with bottles of wine and blankets. It reminded me of Victorian times where people would step out to “take some air”.
Well the next day found us taking some air alright. Our run took us from the beach up 2,500 feet to the top of Oats Peak. The start of the run was fraught with excitement as we ran along the bluffs, we had to make way for emergency vehicles that came bouncing down the sandy trail, lights ablaze. I glanced down and saw a person, clinging to the rock face, just out of reach of the pounding surf! It wasn’t clear if he was trying to climb up or down, but either way, he was in a terrible spot with high waves exploding on the rocks below. As we were in a “race” (my goal these days is not to be last) and emergency personnel were arriving, we continued running. Montana de Oro is a rugged, steep, and very beautiful park. It is full of fragrant chaparral, golden California Poppies, and ocean views. I chugged my way slowly to the top, stopping occasionally to stop and take in the views (and some air). The down hill was rocky and technical. Still, I love to run down hill and when I could, I let ‘er rip. I felt pretty good up until mile 10 when I started to falter. By mile 11 I was walking, dizzy, and nauseated. I’d go to a bush, lean over it, mouth watering and chant to myself, “Don’t throw up, don’t throw up, don’t throw up”. It was not fun. I protest having to train for events these days and this was payback.
I lurched into the finish area feeling rather embarrassed and sorry for myself until I found my friend Diane. She said she was seeing stars and had diarrhea the whole time. She kept having to leap into the bushes apologizing to the runners around her. The slang word for diarrhea in Spanish is “chorro” and Diane renamed Montana de Oro to Montana de Chorro. She was telling me this as I was in the medical tent having ice applied to my ears to cool me down. Between the shock of having someone stick ice in your ears and Diane making me laugh till I thought I was going to throw up again, I quickly recovered. We hobbled down to the icy Pacific to soak our legs which helps soreness. A big wave tumbled Diane head over heels. One minute she was standing there and the next minute all I could see was a pair of feet sticking up out of a bunch of white water. She bounced up like a Jack in the Box, her mouth in an “O”. As if that weren’t funny enough she was grabbing her bottom and yelping that the salt water was stinging her chorro raw behind. I had to get out as I was laughing so hard I was crying.
The next day the whole gang, all 12 or so of us, decided we were recovered enough to hike to the top of Maddonna Peak in San Luis Obispo. It’s a 45 minute hike up at a leisurely pace and the views are quite nice. Plus there are big rocks to sun yourself on at the top. And there was Prosecco involved. A fine way to celebrate the end of a fine weekend.