One thing I know already: I wouldn’t have missed this adventure, these people, this place, for the world.
For four decades after the penitentiary closed, the gardens were abandoned. That so many plants survived the harsh climate and barren soil seems a metaphor for the inmates who served out their terms and went on to lead productive, useful lives after their release.
“You prayed for his coming, but you were wise not to let your longing, your loneliness interfere with living, with what had to be done from moment to moment. You kept giving even when you felt nothing in return.”
What I love most about the park is the smell of sage, plus the array of people: elderly ladies power-walking with their visors, tanned buff guys running shirtless, young people talking about their screenplays and restaurant jobs.
I may not look like I’m doing much, but believe me, the wheels are turning! My spirit is forming and firming up by the minute. And to top it all off, from walking around for hours every day in the blazing sun, I’m getting a tan!
In “A Philosophy of Walking,” Frédéric Gros reflects upon some of the many thinkers and writers throughout history who have also considered walking essential to their work: Nietzsche, Rimbaud, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thoreau.
One day last week I tramped through a dark wood, up a very steep hill, and around a couple of bends and came out at the edge of meadows and meadows full of…could it be?…I was pretty sure…heather! I’ve never seen my namesake flower growing in the wild so this was a rare thrill.
. “Battouflet’s chief concern was the vegetation on the ghostly paths. Cutting and thrusting impatiently, his stick kept open a vestige of the vineyard tracks which would otherwise have been overgrown and lost. It was his single self-imposed task.”
“I don’t pretend to be van Gogh. I’m a commercial artist. I’m one of a thousand. I do simple landscapes to support my family. I don’t do what I want to do; I do what the people who buy my paintings like me to do. If I paint the Manhattan Beach pier ten times, I’ll sell all of them. If I paint the Virgin Mary, I don’t sell one.”