More Mesa

Posted by Ken Campbell March 24, 2014 0 Comment 1267 views

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe can’t stand up unassisted anymore, and when he does get the help to stand, he is unable to take a step. And this is a man for whom walking is a sacrament, an integral part of who he is. I remember him walking to work in the Newfoundland snow as much as in the California sun, any month of the year and in all conditions. Sunday afternoons were for walks around Lake Los Carneros, a couple of miles with some stops and starts, me running this way and that behind him. I just never thought of my father as a sedentary type, but that decision is being made for him as I write this.

In times of stress and personal upheaval, we all have our therapies. When I needed to get away yesterday, away from the hospital smell, the hushed and sterile voices in the nurses station and the constant reminders of mortality, I went to More Mesa. It is still there, still the way it was when I was a child, trails cut through the grasses and the cliffs above the coast, the sand and breakers far below and the eucalyptus trees hanging out over it all, defying gravity. There are songbirds in the branches of every tree, finches and warblers calling out their claims, filling the clear sea air with their musical stories. A pair of Cooper’s hawks wheels against the blue of the sky. I am pulled into the scene sloOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwly, my mind shucking off the circumstances of the world beyond this one, matters of life and death. I close my eyes and listen, breathe.

It is amazing to me that More Mesa is still here. It occupies 300 acres of choice Santa Barbara waterfront, a developer’s dream. With all the building that has taken place in this town over the past generation or so, it is almost unthinkable that this tract hasn’t been gutted, platted and paved over like so much of the rest. That it hasn’t been is due to the efforts of Santa Barbara and Goleta residents who have effectively combated the green monster of development for all these years. Threats of destruction come and go over time, but people need a place to walk.

I walk the trails slowly with an easy stride. I am in no hurry. It is a Sunday afternoon, the sun is warm on my shoulder and the breeze is light and perfumed with sea airs. I know that a day is coming when I too will be unable to walk trails like these, when my legs will not hold me up, but that day is not yet upon me. There is worry and care elsewhere, but this ambling meditation is tonic for the tired head and heart.

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