Mingus the Super Dog and I are back from our early morning spazier up the hill and down again. Is there anything about walking (the dog) that is not virtuous? (Oh yeah: “hiking the Appalachian Trail”). That’s what I was thinking about while MtSD did his morning smell-everything-in-our-path routine.Two books came to mind:
Tom Killion and Gary Snyder’s masterful Tamalpais Walking: Poetry, History, and Prints to start. Tom’s prints capture Mt Tam with perfection (if you ever get to see his large format rice paper work, well, they’re absolutely luminous) and Snyder’s evocation of how the annual tradition of circumabmulating Mount Tam got started are worth the price alone. But they go beyond that to a cultural anthropology of the mountain; most interesting to me is Tom’s history of the hiking culture that flourished during the interwar period (it got me thinking that in some ways the mantle’s been passed to Marin’s biking community these days; no doubt that notion will not sit well with some, but I think it’s true). BTW, the book’s publisher, Malcolm Margolin and Heydey Books, are two more reasons that life in the Bay Area is worth it…
The other book is by one of the best essayists we’ve got these days – Rebecca Solnit. Her 2000 book, Wanderlust, is a passionate argument for the link between walking, thinking, and our very definition as human beings. Written in her lovely, thoughtful style.
And while I’m on the topic, one of John Hiatt’s sappiest songs – Me and My Dog (on his 2003 album, Beneath this Gruff Exterior) takes walking the dog to new heights. I admit it: I love it.