I just rode up one of my favorite hills. I say that about most of the hills I have just ridden but Rodeo Gulch is truly one of my favorites. The steepest part of the hill is 17%. It is rural and reminds me of the hills in Iowa where I grew up because of the farm animals. The air wafts molasses and ammonia from cow manure and muddy decomposing hay. Many of those living alongside the road have chickens who cackle all day for more feed. There is the occasional horse fenced in by barb wire who eyes me wishing they could run next to me on my slowly moving bicycle. My thoughts drift back to a scene of a farmstead I once saw where a horse and a dog had developed a diversion together. They eyed each other carefully and then one or the other would bolt to the side and run for 20 to 30 yards. They would do this over and over punctuated by short breaks staring at each other. Sometimes the dog would run first and sometimes the horse would. Whether the direction would be left or right seemed random. I could only guess that the rules of the game had something to do with which one would run first and which one would arrive at the stopping place first. Full speed seemed to be a given.
A cow has walked to the top of a very steep hill, content with the tenderest grass. She knows that even with her slow saunter she can beat me up the hill. The cows are happy to feel the start of the winter rains which have brought the hills back to life. It is January and winter in Northern California. This means days in the 60’s and nights in the 40’s. In winter it is green in the hills while in summer everything is brown because it does not rain for 6 months. This is the opposite of most other locations where the winter cold has frozen everything to browns and grays and the summer rains bring back verdant greens. In this photo the orange persimmons are still hanging on the tree. They are now too ripe to eat but the birds love this sweet treat.
The sky reminds me of the skies of Malaga, Spain where it seems every day is sunny. I even call this shade of sky Malaga blue because it is so distinctive. I dream of going back to our home there again but I don’t know when that will be. There has been no traveling for nearly a year because of the pandemic. Until then I try to stay healthy by riding the hills.