First Blush

Reflections and sightings from [almost] daily jogging at dawn

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sunrise 5:49: Saturday in the country

Once again the Dawn Joggers awoke in the countryside, this morning to a rooster's crow. They were surrounded by grapevines, but instead of France, they were in Potter Valley, a small town northeast of Ukiah, which isn't exactly a city (population less then Menlo Park). The female DJ's cousins Georgia and Robin had brought ranch property in Potter Valley in the mid-60s and moved there with their two school age daughters Kelly and Karen. Robin's still there living in retirement with his wife Earlene, and both Kelly and Karen live in the Valley with their families. Today the ranch land that once hosted cattle and sheep is leased and planted with grapes. What better way to enjoy a Saturday morning than a walk amidst the vines. Pictured with the male DJ are Karen's son Thomas and husband Dave along with Drake the chocolate Lab...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sunrise 5:49: Orange Friday on the Dish

Yesterday's pretty sunlit dawn gave way to overcast skies this morning - a good backdrop to kick off orange Friday - and the Giants have even been winning! One Dish walker was all set for tonight's game against the Padres. The female DJ was getting his Dish run in on Friday as the DJ's are heading up to Potter Valley today. Like France, they'll once again be staying in a very rural area. But grapes are replacing cows and sheep...


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sunrise 5:50: Everything remains ducky

As they're almost full grown, the female Dawn Jogger expects that the two large duckling families that have been amusing her on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for many weeks will soon go they're separate ways. But it's a bonus to have the second round of still small ducklings paddling around the lake. Not to mention the leftover Floatopia items...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sunrise 5:50: Photographer failure

The clouds this morning were spectacular and distinct. In the east, the sun's light showed off their white puffiness, while in the west they were dark and foreboding. Going up the Dish from the Junipero Serra side in all that perky dawn lightness, it was like entering a new and somber world on the descent down to Alpine Road. The female Dawn Jogger gave Clario a real work out as there seemed to be a new great vista at every turn. Alas, the resulting images didn't come close to the reality...


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sunrise 5:51: Big float continues at lake

The female Dawn Jogger got caught with dawn community member Judy this morning, and they agreed it's been a banner spring at Lake Lagunita. Just when they figured duckling season was over, a new brood was hatched - this time with 15 babies. So this weekend's Floatopia didn't seem to bother the regular inhabitants of the lake. Many of the floating objects remained on the lake's shore as of this morning - the female DJ did like the pirate ship with built in barbeque. The snake (rattler or King?) was further a field on the maintenance road adjacent to the golf course...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sunrise 5:51: A Monday like Saturday

The Dawn Joggers used the Memorial Day holiday to do what's become their new Saturday tradition, going to a place that the female DJ can jog and the male DJ can walk, followed by breakfast out somewhere. Today it was Baylands, where there's always something going on water fowl wise, and then Hobees. The gloomy weather continues...


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunrise 5:52: Floatopia - real or imagined?

The official Floatopia website says the event was canceled. Even trying to remember the zaniness of her undergraduate years, which were actually more serious than zany, the female Dawn Jogger was never clear on exactly what the Floatopia event was all about. She'd seen the posters announcing it - and then the administration-mandated signs placed around Lake Lagunita with the new language about the "lake being shut down for use at any time." But she was nevertheless unclear why a springtime floating party on the lake would have gotten the Stanford administration so concerned. (But then she was of an era when young men actually lived at the boathouse and [probably] far worse went on.) There is, of course, the stated policy about "no alcohol." A floating party with no alcohol? In her wildest undergraduate memories, it seemed at cross purposes. So whatever the official policy, the male and female Dawn Joggers journeyed to the lake in the late afternoon today for a stroll and to see what was - or was not - happening. It was a chilly May day and only the hardiest could have make their way out onto the the lake. But, official or not, a few hardy souls did...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sunrise 5:52: Grey Dish morning

A week ago the Dawn Joggers awoke to another day of heat and quickly retreated to the coast where they could walk/jog in a more hospitable environment. This morning it was sprinkling and unseasonably cool. So they both set out from the house, the male DJ to do his one hour minimum walk (trying to increase the number of steps during that period) and the female DJ back to her Saturday dish run. She liked the juxtaposition of the now golden fields against the grey skies. Clario's shot is better larger, possible by clicking on it...


Friday, May 23, 2008

Sunrise 5:53: Frogs on bikes

The tiny frogs continue to hop along the banks of Lake Lagunita. Evidently they rent bikes, too. When the female Dawn Jogger was a child growing up in Menlo Park, she thought that all college students rode bikes to get around because that's what they did on the local campus. She was actually surprised when started at UCLA and found no bikes (and lots of hills making biking not as easy as it is at Stanford). The bike rental concession on campus is relatively new (or at least in a more prominent space). Makes sense to rent only when you need the two wheels...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sunrise 5:54: Up and over Wednesday

Clear skies had returned, making the female Dawn Jogger's Wednesday dish run bright and cheery. The groups of elite runners have moved on and it's back to the usual group of duffers. Minus the herd as well...


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sunrise 5:55: Another boat in waiting

The female Dawn Jogger found it status quo at Lake Lagunita this morning - enough frogs hopping about to watch one's step and lots of duck families growing up fast. There's some kind of yellow sludge-like vegetation hugging the shore line. The Floatopia will undoubtedly slice right through...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sunrise 5:56: Two bird morning

The coastal fog had crept in overnight, making it decidedly cooler and more typical of Peninsula weather. The change in weather conditions caused the female Dawn Jogger to wonder if overcasts skies made the hunting conditions better for Great Blue Herons. She spotted two this morning - one patrolling Stanford's arboretum and the other taking a bath under the San Mateo bike bridge. The DJ's saw quite a few "big birds" in the Bresse region of Burgundy on the trip...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunrise 5:56: Grace dines out

The Dawn Joggers continue to awake at first light, so the female DJ went out for an early morning jaunt before church. But she's breaking a First Blush rule by showing a much more interesting photo than anything she saw this morning. Grace came to visit yesterday afternoon and the whole family went out to dinner at Mike's Cafe in Portola Valley along with friends Cathy and Mike. This was the first time Grace had sat in a still-a-bit-big-for-her high chair. She liked her new French bonnet and the plush crib toy the female DJ found in Pont de Vaux on one of the DJs day expeditions. Mike's was perfect for a six month old yesterday - lots of other kids eating outdoors with their families. Grace continues to be such a good baby...


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sunrise 5:57: Hitting the coast

Temperatures were expected to be cooler today (and it's turning out to be true) but when the Dawn Joggers got up shortly after 8:00 this morning, it seemed more sensible to head over to the coast for their exercise. This had been a favorite routine of their's and Cassie's, repeated at least once a quarter. But neither of them could remember hitting the coast since the male DJ's diagnosis in October 2006. And things had changed a bit - more scrap metal animals up to dinosaur size along the road heading into Half Moon Bay and new shops and restaurants on the town's Main Street. (They had breakfast at one after their jogging/walking.) Plenty of people were lining the beach by mid-morning and by the time they headed up, Hwy 92 had its usual back up. At least for a stretch, one couple had the beach to themselves...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sunrise 5:58: Rowboat in waiting

Lake Lagunita remains full this year, but it's hardly a sparkling body of water. While good for all the duck families, the lake is choked with vegetation and some other gooey stuff near the shoreline. Hopefully this won't dampen this spirits of the upcoming Floatopia that the female Dawn Jogger saw promotional flyers for on her trip around the lake at dawn this morning. One rowboat was waiting patiently for the festivities to begin. On another note, it final hit the female DJ that all the very lithe - and fast - runners that she's being see in the early morning must be in the Bay Area for this weekend's Bay to Breakers...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sunrise 5:59: Fields of yellow

The female Dawn Jogger admits that she was hoping to catch up with the local herd on this her first Big Dish run since returning from France. But they weren't to be found, undoubtedly taking refuge from the heat some where. Even at 6:00 am, it was warm on the ridge line of the Dish - a good 10-15 degrees warmer than than at the bottom. As she expected, all the grass had turned to straw color. It was nice the way the field was glowing slightly thanks to the sun's early rays...


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sunrise 6:00: Frogs debut at the lake

While the male Dawn Jogger is still trying to figure out how he will get through each day without the herd across from the mill house in France for amusement, the female Dawn Jogger returned to the familiar territory of her Lake Lagunita run this morning at dawn. She was eager to find out what had changed (the ducklings have all turned into "teenagers," the grass is all brown, and the lake is starting to give off its peculiar odor) and what was new. She was welcomed back by tiny frogs making their way along the lake's banks. This was their first appearance after an absence of a couple of years when the lake was dry. So she's starting to get back into the old routine...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sunrise 6:10: Dawn in France

Neither of Dawn Joggers had been up any where near dawn during the time in France, but today they rose early to drive to Lyon to catch their plane home. The female DJ took the opportunity to walk up the hill to neighboring Limay to capture what a first blush looks like French county style. It was really hard to leave...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sunrise 6:11: Last day at Moulin de l'Homont

Today is a holiday in Europe (the Monday after Pentecost), which means everything is closed, and the Dawn Joggers have to figure out how to navigate the day on existing supplies. Or so they thought before the female DJ headed out in the early morning for her last jog of this trip - the good 7-mile route that takes her through Les Dezarets where the dairy cows share the pasture with the well-protected Bresse chicken.

Later on the route, she saw people people already enjoying the holiday in the French countryside, fishing at a local pond. And, speaking to the 'where to get supplies' issue, the mini market was open in La Chapelle Thecle, which suggested that the Montpont en Bresse mini market would also be open. (It was.)

She returned thinking that maybe they'd go on a picnic, too. But why go to another location when they have the perfect picnic spot at the Moulin de l'Homont? The smallish river that runs under the house is La Sane Vive, and it's part of what makes this location so pleasant for just enjoying French country life. As the male DJ points out, the day's events can be measured by what the neighbors (five brown and white cattle) are up to...


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunrise 6:12: Faith and fish

The Dawn Joggers were up early to attend the Pentecost service at Taize (by coincidence and thanks to an "early" Easter, just as they did last year). It was another gorgeous morning, and when they crossed the Saone River at Tournus and left Bresse for the Maconnais, they were reminded how pretty the rolling countryside of that region of Burgundy is with its rows and rows of grapes.

As they drove up the hillside to the famous ecumenical community, it was the usual crowded seen of mostly young people with a good sprinkling of those who were young once, all speaking multiple languages (sort of fitting for Pentecost) The Church of Reconciliation, as the sanctuary is called, was packed well before the brothers and visiting clergy - all in red stoles - took their places. A service at Taize is mostly sung with the sermon replaced by about five minutes of silence following the Gospel reading. Even with serving Communion to the thousands of people gathered, the service was over in an hour, and the female DJ thought fondly of Father Mike, who firmly believed a service should never take longer.

After buying some Taize essentials in the shop, they headed back to Tournus for a really great lunch at Le Terminus. The female DJ is known to go on and on about how good "the fish is," but today's omble chevalier (a type of lake trout, according to the waiter) was not only tasty but was spectacularly presented on a slate platter. Speaking of fish, the female DJ just spotted some monstrous three-foot long thing swimming under their house...


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sunrise 6:13: Wrong turn, right farm

For no good reason (it's not that they were out late), the Dawn Joggers many hours past dawn this morning. While the male DJ made their farm fresh egg breakfast, the female DJ drove up the hill the the boulangerie in nearby La Chapelle Thecle, choosing that location because she thinks the village bakery there looks like it's straight out of a movie set. They needed enough croissants to cover their early departure tomorrow morning when they head to Taize for Pentecost as well as a baguette for today's lunch.

The female DJ had decided today was the day she'd head off alone for a walk in the countryside, embolden by her success at navigating a long jog earlier in the week. She knew that the "Randonnee 47" would be tricker than the jog and sure enough she was off course almost immediately after passing through the grounds of the Chateau de Montpont and its gruff owner and snarling dogs. Another wrong left turn took her well to the side of the woods she was supposed to be walking through but (the good news) by a large French horse farm that sported many adjacent pastures of good looking animals, including one with brood mares and their fairly young offspring (but too far for Clario to capture in a photo). Now if she could only figure out what breed they are - and whether warm blood riding horses or draft stock...


Friday, May 09, 2008

Sunrise 6:15: Ponds, killer crepes and ATAC

Truth be told, the female Dawn Jogger is getting pretty used to the rhythms of life in the Bresse countryside, particularly when there are so few demands on her time. The day began with a jog to and around the local pond, where grazing cattle greeted her (with the church in Montpont en Bresse in the background). Then the DJs headed out for the day's luncheon journey, this time to Pont de Vaux. There they stumbled upon another pleasant pond which they walked around before dining at Le Raisin. It was probably their first "gourmet" meal since arriving, complete with mini Michelin style service (although not nearly as robotic as the starred establishments). Crepes Parmentier, a specialty of the house, accompanied the main course, and they were a guiltily consumed taste treat. The very pleasant afternoon was topped off by a stop at the best ATAC (a chain of French supermarkets) the female DJ had ever been in, a true super supermarche. She came out with more than groceries, including some things for granddaughter Grace...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Sunrise 6:16: Serious about chickens (and holidays, too)

The female Dawn Jogger rose well after dawn and took a terrific 7-mile loop jog in the countryside around the watermill house. Thanks to the great patchwork of tiny roads, it's easy to got a good work out it and pass very few cars. One of main activities in the Bresse countryside in early May appears to be getting the kitchen garden underway, and she went by a number of farms/country homes where the occupants where busy tilling the soil. In the hamlet of les Dezarets, the female DJ came upon the largest Bresse chicken farm that she's seen. There were three fields of the special poultry (although one was shared with cattle). And each was marked with a firm sign warning to "stay clear." Yes, Bresse chicken is a big deal. Or at least a clever marketing scheme...

Afternoon update: The female Dawn Jogger knew Pentacost in France meant a three-day weekend (not for its religious significance - as their friend David pointed out, "No one knows what it means other than they get Monday off.") But she hadn't factored in another holiday - even when the butcher who fancies himself a chef told them to come in the morning for their order and even when there was a gathering around the war memorial in the village square. It wasn't until the afternoon and the DJs noticed that everything everywhere was closed that it occurred to them that this was probably some war related holiday. Indeed it's the 64th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. There is a war memorial - usually honoring those who died in both WWI and WWII - in any place in France big enough to have a village square. On her jog this morning, she'd passed one monument to two local villagers who had been assassinated by the Gestapo. It made her wonder if there were any actual veterans alive (particularly given the great toll WWII had taken on young men in Europe.) But there were about eight gray-haired men standing at one side of the ceremony in Montpont en Bresse this morning, gathered there with local villagers and a band. She admits tears came to her eyes when the band played La Marseillaise...


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Sunrise 6:17: Day in the Jura

The Dawn Joggers took off after a light breakfast for a day in the adjacent Jura region, known for its magnificent scenery and distinctive wine. Like the Bresse region of Burgundy, it's not on the American tourist map and locals seem surprised when they hear the DJs (and usually think they're Canadian.) On this spring day in May, the Jura was everything that its tourist board boasts - spring green foliage and perfect shirt sleeve weather. The first stopped was Baume-les-Messieurs (pictured), considered one of the prettiest villages in France, which is situated at the convergence of three valleys. Its 9th century Abbey is in perfect ruin - still standing but in decay (sort of like its monks, who began as Benedictines but morphed into idle noblemen with lax rules). They then headed to the hilltop village of Chateau Chalon, one of the main winemaking areas. They sipped some of the distinctive tasting and smelling Jura wine and purchased a bottle of reserve made from the Savagnin grape. Tomorrow they can return to just enjoying country life and already have their order into the local butcher who fancies himself a chef...


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Sunrise 6:19: Jog around the lake

The distance from the watermill house to the artificial lake - and around it - is about the same as the distance from the female Dawn Jogger's house in Menlo to Lake Lagunita and back. So she felt right at home this morning when she went out for a morning jog just after rising (although well after dawn). Every field that's not planted in wheat is covered with yellow buttercups as is the shore of the lake. It's almost impossible to capture how fresh and spring green the Bresse region is at this time of year...


Monday, May 05, 2008

Sunrise 6:20: Out early to the market

The nearby town of Louhans turns into an open air market every Monday - and about everything else around it shuts down. The Dawn Joggers arrived shortly after the market opened at 8:00 am and were introduced to a way of life that has been going on for centuries in this part of the world. You could buy almost anything on two feet alive but eatable (in various sizes) and quite a bit on four feet (although the female DJ doubts the llamas were there to be consumed - in fact she's not sure what the market demand is for llama in these parts.) By 10:00 am, it was almost impossible to make your way from stall to stall - and they headed back to the watermill house, early enough for the female DJ to do a loop walk to Chapelle Thecle, whose church they can hear chime on the ridge above them. The male DJ got some other good market shots...


Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sunrise 6:21: Lots of Burgundian white

Yes, Burgundy's white wine is famous and, while less so worldwide, so is the region's Bresse chicken and Charolais cattle. The Dawn Joggers rose well after dawn this morning and headed out for a midday main meal at a nearby village. The female DJ's roast chicken came with a tag to show it was authentic. (When will California's Rosie and Rocky brand be clamoring for similar tags of distinction?) It was good but neither DJ was convinced it was better than they get at Schaub's (which is neither Rosie nor Rocky - and in the DJ's opinion, better than both).

After lunch the DJs walked along the river near their watermill turned house and to get a longer jaunt in, the female DJ headed towards the nearest village, Montpont en Bresse, and walked around its pleasant manmade lake where there were lots of Sunday picknickers. Any passerby seemed to bring the young and curious Charolais cattle grazing in nearby fields to the closest fence...


Saturday, May 03, 2008

Sunise 5:(something): Arrival at Moulin de l'Homont

The Dawn Joggers aren't sure when sunrise was as it's the time of year when you fly the northern route to Europe and the sun is kind of always up. The arrived in Frankfurt around 9:30 - four hours after the sun rose in that city. Then it on to Lyon and finally the 90 minute drive north to Montpont-en-Bresse, which is sandwiched between the Maconnais where they were last year and another wine reason, the Jura. This region of Burgundy is all about the famous Bresse chicken, which they say quite a few of on the drive. There are staying in a lovely home, Moulin de l'Homont, which is a converted watermill. That means the stream runs under the house. Yep, they're both exhausted but picnicked and watched the sunset together. Tomorrow further explorations...


Friday, May 02, 2008

Sunrise 6:12: Last Dish dash before France

The Dawn Joggers head off to southern Burgundy today but both got up at dawn to exercise. The female DJ did a Dish run while the male DJ headed to the Y for his workout. By the time they return, the Dish area will probably be brown although there's still a lot of grazing grass for the cattle who were near the Dish base this morning. Looking forward to living the French country life...


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Sunrise 6:13: Last lake loop

The female Dawn Jogger figures this will be the last dawn Lake Lagunita loop for a while. The DJs are soon heading to the French countryside for different sunrise moments. Water is still being pumped into the lake, so it should stay full in their absence. No new ducklings found, nor did she see any of the previously spotted broods. She did scare herself into thinking she was morphing into another old batty birder at being a little bit thrilled to see what she thinks is some kind of heron (Black-crowned Night Heron?) perched on some debris. Hadn't seen one before around the lake...