Sunday, January 16, 2005

Coming into focus

At home. Listening to the music of the Icelandic band "Sigur Ros", a pot of rice cooking on the stove, "organizing papers", going through bills and other mail. Scanned the local "Kenwood Press". There have been four recent deaths in the small town of Kenwood: ages 52, 53, 62 and 65. All too young. To me, the message is clear: "don't wait to pursue your dreams."

I don't usually take a notebook when I hike, but today I did. I don't want to miss any thoughts that surface that might help in preparing for my trip. Hiked to Bald Mountain in the mild, partly-sunny afternoon. Insects beginning to stir, and the fragrance of flowers drifting through the air. Very pleasant.

As I walked, I sank into imagination about travel, occasionally pulling out the pad to jot down a note, another item to add to the packing list. Thus distracted, my instincts take over and "manage" the pace of climb. Consequently, it was not too taxing. Reached the summit painlessly. (Often, this is not the case.)

The valleys to the west were filled with an unhealthy haze, no doubt the result of countless fireplaces and stoves. To the east, it was less apparent. Rested in the gravelly stubble, dozing lightly.

After other hikers departed, leaving me in silence, I took a seat on the simple, solitary bench atop Bald Mountain and gazed off to the eastern horizon, out toward the vastness of America. Shakespeare wrote "for nimble thought can jump both sea and land, as soon as think the place where he would be." For some reason, the view from a mountain top will often evoke these words. I think of friends in distant places.

To the north, Hull, Snow and St. John Mountains are all dusted in snow, and plumes of steam rise high over The Geysers. (Are those vapors now tainted since Santa Rosa has begun pumping its wastewater into the Geysers' source?)

Thought long about the trip. "Perhaps I should take a run down to the Carrizo Plain as a test?" I've come to realize I'm now "in training". Four months to go. If I can "lose fifteen pounds" that's fifteen pounds of additional gear I can carry, or an additional 100 miles' worth of gasoline.

***

Yesterday, I met with my supervisor at Robert Mondavi, and he reviewed with me the separation offer from Constellation Brands. A retention bonus would be paid for me to stay on through May 6th to help with the transition.

The meeting was short and sweet. It could have been worse. Being a manager, I was not offered anything so lavish as the obscene packages being used placate Senior Management, but the offer was reasonable. In fact, it will go a long way toward funding "The Americas Trip".

The timing will be perfect. Two weeks after leaving Mondavi, I could be on the road, bound for Alaska.

An old familiar expression, "the play is written" has never been more apparent.

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