No matter where you drive in the California Delta, Mt. Diablo watches over you.  I see her when I leave for work, steady and serene to the southwest.  As I cross the bridge at evening time, she spans the horizon to my right.  The circle on which I live changes my perspective of her; from near, to far; from dim to bold.  Her constant presence never flags, though the broad appearance of her countenance shimmers, shines, and shades in surreal relief as I drive through the twists and turns of life along the rivers.

This evening’s chill drifted through the open window as I turned on Jackson Slough, a rough sort of levee road between the highway and my own stretch of the San Joaquin.  From habit I checked across the wide expanse towards Brentwood, a town across the Antioch Bridge but closer as the red-tailed hawk flies.  There she rose, dark and serene, our eternal protectress, Mt. Diablo.  I paused alongside an entryway to a vineyard, watching the skim of rain above the peak.  Where I stood no rain had yet begun; but I could see it there, on the mountaintop, billowing clouds and a misty veil.  I watched for a long minute.  I lowered the window, raised the only camera at hand, my cell phone, and took four frames.

Later I studied the photographs, one blurry, two dark, and the last halfway decent for such a rudimentary eye.  As darkness fell, and the air grew downright cold, I watched the skies for signs of a storm.  The winds held quiet.  Only the slight ripple of a whispered breeze fluttered the leaves of the overhead oak.  I waited, listening to the call of a settling dove and the skitter of a small creature underfoot.  After a few minutes, I drew the door closed, and went inside where a warm woolen shawl and a steaming cup of tea awaited me.

It’s the tenth day of the one-hundred and first month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Joni Mitchell, “Both Sides Now”, 1970

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