No time for a full post tonight but I’d like to share a few photos from Arastradero Preserve, a protected open space in Palo Alto with dusty trails ideal for running. It’s a hilly park, carved into the lower foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, but that’s part of the appeal.

The gradual uphills slow you down, steal your breath, and unwittingly draw you away from the worries of the day. Huffing and puffing, you look to the more mundane, harmless close-at-toe details near your feet: the straw-colored grasses, the spiky seedpods of what were once wildflowers, the beige-speckled lizard scampering out of the way.

Seed heads

Every few minutes you glance up the trail to where Quercus agrifolia, or Coast live oaks, grace the ridges of the preserve in their wizened dignity, cutting a silhouette like an elegant 82-year-old dame dressed to the nines. Classy trees, those ones.

Coast live oak

The slow-going of trail running gives you time for pondering… back to the events of the day, the conversations of the afternoon. Why it’s so easy to talk, and so hard to listen. Why so much effort goes into hearing what’s beneath and between the words. Why it matters to try.

“To ‘listen’ another’s soul into a condition of disclosure and discovery may be almost the greatest service that any human being ever performs for another.”

— Douglas Steere, American Quaker

Whether you reach the top of the hill or not, the time comes to turn around downhill. And that’s when you see it—wham! The view! It’s a sweeping swath of the valley. There’s the giant satellite dish the next hill over known around here simply as “The Dish,” the Spanish adobe tower and halls of Stanford, the super-sized hangars at Moffett Airfield, the Bay, and the East Bay hills beyond.

The descent is a kick in the pants. The levity! The zippy careening back to the car! You can almost hear the endorphins chirruping in your ears all the way to the parking lot and the drive home.

Descent

Not a bad place to unwind.