2 March 2003
They say that it's unsafe to drive while talking on a cell phone. Your attention is distracted from the road, and there are laws being discussed all over the country to prevent people from using their cell phones while driving.
Likewise, while most of us have done it (according to the surveys), it's also not safe to drive while eating. It's pretty easy to figure out that if you're reaching for the Big Mac while holding a supersize drink between your knees, you might not be in the best position to handle those tricky unexpected driving situations that come up. I don't know if there are laws proposed to prohibit eating while driving.
But nobody has identified another very real hazard on the road: a beautiful spring day is hazardous to your driving.
Today was a beautiful spring day. There aren't a lot of perks to living in the banana belt of California, where temperatures can soar into the triple digits during the summer. But the reward of enduring an unending summer is living through a few weeks of spring.
Not even San Francisco on a clear day can compare with the sheer glory of a spring day in the valley, with almond orchards in bloom, a clear blue sky filled with huge fluffy cumulus clouds overhead, deep emerald green grass on the hills, and vivid yellow mustard growing ankle-deep stretching as far as the eye can see.
It doesn't get better than this.
I left Davis at 10 a.m. this morning, headed west toward my mother's, where I spent day day and am spending the night. I brought the camera with me because I knew that I would be passing through orchard country and I thought I might get off the freeway and look for good places to take pictures.
It didn't take long to come to the first place I wanted to exit. We haven't reached peak blossom time yet, but I found a wonderful almond orchard that was close. I stood under the trees, in a shower of blossom petals and took pictures.
Two off ramps later, I found a field of mustard and tried to find a good place for a photo. The trees here weren't yet in bloom and I felt like I'd wandered into the corporate headquarters of the local crows (or the set from "The Birds"!) as I was surrounded by birds, each claiming the top of his/her own tree, keeping a watchful eye on the field, every now and then swooping down to the ground, and then back up into the tree again.
At the end of the road, at a little culvert, I startled heron rose into the air, flapping its huge wings, as my car passed by.
When I left the orchards, I began to get into the hills, rolling, deep green, and dotted with grazing cattle. It was a scene out of the back lot of "Little House on the Prairie."
Who can keep their attention focused on the asphalt when there is so much beauty surrounding you? I might have given it closer attention if I'd been balancing a cup of hot coffee in my lap.
Eventually, I arrived (safely) at my mother's. We had a lovely visit, and took a lovely walk around the lagoon of this mobile home park where she lives. The fountains are turned on, and the water is filled with water fowl-the ducks who call this home year-round, the migratory Canada geese and coots who are just passing through, and the scavenger gulls who are looking for a quick bite of anything.
Again, the hills which surround this place, from the small hill nearby where they have built new homes, to the majestic Mt. Tamalpais which overlooks Marin County, are briefly green and lush. Soon the grass will grow too tall and then begin to turn yellow and this brief moment will be gone, but I savored it.
On my mother's porch, the first dove family of the season has moved in and from Mama Dove's actions, pecking at her eggs, it appears that the first hatchlings will be making their appearance tomorrow.
It was a bucolic day. If George Lucas (whose ranch is just a couple of miles from here, up Lucas Valley Road) were making a movie of today, he would have used Beethoven's 6th symphony for the score.
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