There is some kind of perverse relaxation in hiking or walking in nature. Despite my lousy stamina, and wonky knees, I truly love getting out and breathing the country air. I have never lived in a BIG city, although I was raised in suburbia. My parents had a 110 acre place, for summertime, and for my dad’s hunting, when I was growing up; lots of mesquite and brush oak, dry creek beds and footprints to admire. (Deer, fox, rabbit, coyote, mountain lion… I used to take plaster molds of them for my collections)
The last couple of weeks, we have been hiking in the Suisun Hills – courtesy of Rush Ranch, owned by the Solano County Land Trust. This picture is from the top of the Suisun Hill Trail – the only one on the ranch that allows dogs.
The bird life is amazing, this one American Kestrel took off as soon as we approached!
Then there were the charming replicated Indian touches, installed for 5th graders at local schools who come for the day to experience what life might have been like when Native Americans lived, traveled, hunted, and fished on the marshy banks.
This area was the home, at one time, of the Patwan Tribe. Suisun means West Wind in the Patwan language. Suisun City was founded in 1850. Suisunes was the name, as well, of the small tribe of the Patwans, who lived in the area for about 4,000 years.
The land is still very marshy here, and even in the summer the paths around the estuary are green. Tons of wild blackberry bushes thrive here in the brackish water, which was once the home to grizzly bears. Strange rock outcroppings are scattered on the hill – but whether they are Indian or Boy/Girl Scout in origin I have no idea! Looks awesome though, the gentle hills, grassy and close-chomped by grazing cattle, which can make you feel (if you turn your back to the road,) as if you are a pioneer, or Native American, watching the sunset on land that has rolled gently on for generations uncounted.
I try to be realistic – although I love baking bread, and making handicrafts, I would not have wanted to live in the bug-infested marshes, competing with grizzlies for food, and wondering what the cold tule fogs would bring next. Yet I love to relax here – to walk and wonder and explore and exclaim over the natural beauty that remains, despite asphalt highways that drive straight through the hills all around me. I like to imagine that the fish my husband catches in the Sacramento River are distant relatives of those that fed those who lived off the land a couple of centuries ago. It IS relaxing, as well as challenging, to think about the lessons we could learn from the not-so distant past, and the effort we must all make to cherish the land, the rivers and the wildlife that still remains.