Andi took me to the Upper Arroyo Seco trail today. I’d never been there before. It’s hard to imagine that I’ve been able to live here for years and remain completely out of touch with how close we are to nature. It’s one thing to look at the mountains from the cookie cutter lots in the foothills below. It’s another to wander around in those mountains. They don’t feel like what you’d expect them to. In fact they’re totally different from the space we’ve created below. They smell different. They sound different. It doesn’t feel like what you’d expect climbing a mountain would be like at all. It’s cool and shaded by trees. The trails lead through ravines where the rocky cliffs tower above you on either sides. The road is hard to decipher from the landscape around it. There are narrow paths and dips where you hug the face of the mountain on one side and look down a sheer drop on the other. The horses are so relaxed I didn’t bother to hold Velvet’s reins most of the time. She picked her way over the rocky parts and sipped water from the creek. There are bridges, some to walk over and some to go under. There are old stone steps that don’t lead anywhere. Andi says there used to be cabins there but they burned decades ago. It’s hard to imagine that anyone’s ever been there before. We looked for coyote and rabbits and all kinds of birds. Since the Station Fire last year the green grass has grown back and turned to brown. The big trees are blackened but the biggest trees show signs of life despite their burns. It was peaceful to be away from the mowers and blowers. Even in the 113 degree temperature we didn’t sweat much there sheltered by the mountains. We only felt the full heat of the sun when we got back to the asphalt. That’s where the land has been bulldozed in to neat flat lots and trees may only grow to a specified height having been arranged specifically to leave plenty of room for cars to simultaneously drive in alternate directions while others are parked to go no where at all. I guess we all feel like we’re making improvements to the planet so we can live better but I think we need to make improvements for our improvements. We cut down so many trees we need to run air conditioning to stay cool which the radio says may result in too much energy being used. Maybe I need a little better balance between comfort and control. How about a little more raw land, a little less people in so little space and a little more respect for the perfect balance of nature?