First Blush

Reflections and sightings from [almost] daily jogging at dawn

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunrise 5:49: Quiet Otters this year

The Dawn Joggers have longer known what the first Sunday in June (but early this year) brings - blaring wake up music around 7:30, followed by an hour of a woman screaming through a bull horn to cheer on participants of the annual Oak Knoll School Otter Run. They were there once - parents of a child 10 or under - and know well how grade school activities can take over a neighborhood. But they're patience had been sorely tried a few years back when some enthusiastic organizers had imprinted the finish line instructions, using permanent paint not chalk, right in front of their house. They went to bed last night bracing themselves for the onslaught, so they were surprised somewhat at the silence this morning - maybe, the female DJ suggested, the run was starting later this year. They were even more surprised when they made their way out to the kitchen and saw the first of the 5K participants blaze by on the first of their two loops. And yes, there was someone cheering them on, but she'd thankfully left the bull horn in mothballs. Now they're thinking, what a great community event...


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sunrise 5:50: Banished indoors - but together

The male Dawn Jogger was all set this morning for a nice three to four mile walk like he had been enjoying near daily in Ameugny. But, with the female DJ currently outdoing him in the 'gimpy factor,' they headed off to the Page Mill Y instead, at least doing their workouts together. The reason the female likes running at dawn so much is that it's outside - working out inside has just never made sense to her. But hungry for any significant exercise, the elliptical trainer filled the gap - a cardio workout without significant weight bearing. She's is a holding pattern on rehabbing the injury until she see the doctor on Tuesday...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sunrise 5:50: Sign that says it all

The female Dawn Jogger decided to a try a little walk this morning going down one side of the creek and back the other side through Oak Creek apartments. Along the way she spied a bumper sticker proclaiming "Cancers Sucks." What can she say...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sunrise 5:52: Day at Fairyland with Grace

Given that the female Dawn Jogger remains gimpy, it's a bit of an overstatement to say that she had a spring in her step this morning as she headed over to Oakland for a delayed Mother's Day celebration with Grace, Julie and John. It was warm enough that they decided to visit Fairyland, a place that didn't have quite the prominence of the Academy of Sciences in the female DJ's childhood - the visits were much less frequent - but remains a fond memory nevertheless. (And she is, in retrospect, much appreciative of any of her older cousins who accompanied her visits decades ago.) Fairyland today, after a great restoration effort, was actually sweeter than she remembered and Grace loved it - not so much this first time for the nursery rhyme-themed exhibits like the Old Woman in a Shoe - but for all the fun things to do, like riding the little train, crawling through tiny tunnels, sliding down age-appropriate slides and trying to catch bubbles. On her way home from Oakland, she picked up the male DJ, who isn't any happier about being home than she was...


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sunrise 5:53: Looking and listening in Menlo Park

After listening via Skype to the male Dawn Jogger rave about his closing sessions with the Taize brothers - one on his favorite topic of science and faith - the female DJ took off for a walk to breakfast on a brisk May morning (the fog bank over the western hills was very heavy). Her goal was to listen to some recordings on her iPod while remaining aware of the sights around her, seeking the rewards of an observant eye. Lumio couldn't quite capture the eccentricity and variety of one front yard that was simultaneously alive with poppies, roses and a mini vineyard. It was all packed in quite compactly...


Friday, May 22, 2009

Sunrise 5:54: Scenes in the neighborhood

The female Dawn Jogger has been battling a cranky foot but she got up and out for a walk around the neighborhood this morning. She took more photos of all the roses in bloom but also spotted an amusing pole decked out in Cal colors and a cat who was checking out the now debris-strewn lot where once its neighbor's house stood. Starting to see a few more "sold" signs around time, finally...


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sunrise 5:56: Checking out the neighborhood

The female Dawn Jogger did the Menlo loop today, checking out what's new in the neighborhood. Houses remain on the market and gardens are in bloom. The recent heat waves seem to have made the roses happy - they're blooms are plentiful. She really misses the early morning walks to Taize...


Monday, May 18, 2009

Sunrise 5:57: What a surprise - ducklings!

The female Dawn Jogger continues to wake up before sunrise, so got up thinking she'd see the dawn (at this time of the year, it's usually has happened before she heads out). There was one pretty band of light spotted between the first and second fairway of the golf course. But the big surprise of the morning was finding ducklings in the one tiny pond of water that's left of what sometimes is Lake Lagunita. She didn't think there would be any broods this year due to the low water levels. Know she'll worry about the water drying up before they're old enough to fly...


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunrise 5:57: Back on home turf

The female Dawn Jogger noticed that the hills were no longer green on her way home from the airport yestesday, so she wasn't surprised at the golden color of the grass surrounding the Big Dish this morning, where she jogged shortly after dawn. (She was thrilled to have slept to 5:30, given the time change!) The mid-Peninsula is in middle of another heat wave, and it was surprisingly warm, given the hour, on top of the Dish. She's thinking it was smart to get up and out early...


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sunrire 6:06: Last look at Taize

The female Dawn Jogger wasn't planning on running this morning, what with the early drive down to Lyon to catch her flight home. But she woke up and thought, let's give the countryside one last look. So she headed toward Taize, down through the actual village and then back up the main road past the Church of the Reconciliation just in time to capture a splash of sunlight behind one of the spires. It was actually jarring to her all of the Americans on her flight home...


Friday, May 15, 2009

Sunrise 6:08: Charolais in the Burgundy countryside

It was raining when the Dawn Joggers woke up this morning but with ample weather gear, they set out anyway on their pre-Taize service walk, shortened a bit due to the inclement conditions (they admit). The female DJ snapped some photos of their neighbors (anyone within a three mile radius) who are mainly Charolais cattle. By the afternoon, the rain had stopped and they set out again, just to keep their mileage up. That's when the female DJ took the photo that says (to her anyway) "this is where I've been living the past two weeks and this is where I'd like to stay." The reality is she gets on the airplane tomorrow morning...


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sunrise 6:09: Just in time for the bells

It was raining fairly hard when the Dawn Joggers woke up around sunrise this morning. But, as in the American Midwest, just wait ten minutes. By the time they'd dressed and we're headed out on the "extra long route" to morning services at Taize, it had stopped and the sun was dramatically poking through - at least in two places. Living on a ridge top, they can often see the weather roll in from the west and move out to the east. But it is so localized that it can be pouring where they are yet they can see a roaring fire - well tended by a local farmer - in the not so far distance. This morning the weather held firm and the Taize bells chimed as they walked under them. Two brothers will be visiting this evening for supper...


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sunrise 6:10: Fog creeps up the hillside

Many mornings the female Dawn Jogger has awakened to see fog in the valleys to the east and west of the two or so mile ridge that houses the side by side villages of Taize and Ameungy. This morning, though, it was thick enough at dawn to have crept up the hillside.
The female DJ chose to extend her route a bit (anything to work off the fromage!) with an extra loop at a jogging pace while the male DJ headed off to do the western loop, disappearing into the mist. Visibility was only 50 yards or so - better for the close up work of taking photos of the great spider webs woven into the hedge rows. The sun was trying hard to poke through as they headed up the hillside to Taize...


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sunrise 6:12: Other dawn companions

When the residents of the Abbaye des Locos rose very early this morning to bid one member "adieu," they all noticed that the cars looked like it had rained mud - a puzzling development as no one heard hard rain overnight and the cars are parked on grass, so splattering is unlikely. But whatever happened, the Dawn Joggers noticed it had brought out every slug in the countryside (they're tiny here, not like California banana slugs) and quite a few very prettily marked snails. They were forced to watch their step on the three plus mile loop walk to Taize (the second of their dawn outings together). The proximity of the snails to their very good local restaurant down the hill, which serves them on the menu, has the female DJ a bit uneasy...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sunrise 6:12: Companion at dawn

The Dawn Jogger's will celebrate their 28th wedding anniversary later this week. On most mornings for the first 25 years they jogged together at dawn. That lovely ritual - valued by them both - ended in the fall of 2006 when the male DJ was diagnosed with glioma. The female DJ learned to run solo, the dawn scenes still a marvel but never quite as pretty when studied alone. This morning, they once again shared that long-time ritual, rising shortly after dawn and setting out to walk (the pace is not important) the Ameungy loop together (with a 45 minute stop for the 8:15 Taize service). There's about 15 hours of daylight in southern Burgundy at this time of year...


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunrise 6:14: Les temps changeants

Deciding to get a jump on the day - and with Sunday services not starting until 10:00 - the female Dawn Jogger came close to fulfilling her name, doing her four plus mile loop about an hour after dawn. By her newly struck weather indicator - fog in the valleys on either side of their hillside village of Ameugny equaled sunny skies to follow - it looked like it was going to be a glorious day. But by the time the group from the Abbaye des Locos left the service at Taize, it was clouding over and by the time the DJs headed out to lunch it was misting followed by a light but steady rain. The way the weather changes here, the sun may emerge just in time for une coupe de champagne from their terrace...

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Sunrise 6:15: Light and shadows in the village

The Dawn Joggers headed out early this morning to the weekly market in nearby Cluny, hoping to avoid the crowds they encountered last weekend. It gave them more time to browse the stalls and pick out the ingredients for what the male DJ is cooking tonight (poulet nicoise). They came back and did their circuit around Ameungy, with the female DJ extending her mileage a bit by coming back through Taize, where a new group of young people have gathered (although not in the numbers seen last weekend). Just a few doors down from the house where they're staying is a large property (marked "prive") with a tower that was casting interesting light across a double door, captured in photo by the male DJ. There's a series of Ameugny photos linked from the male DJ's blog...


Friday, May 08, 2009

Sunrise 6:16: Morning gathering at Taize

The Dawn Joggers have fallen into a pleasant rhythm here that usually starts (unless the female DJ has gone for a very early morning jog) with the slightly more than 1/2 mile walk to the 8:15 service at Taize. Unlike the weekends, when the throngs of young people are present, the weekday services - at least at this time of year - are far less crowded.
(Cleverly, the brothers have built their church so that it expands - or contracts - with the day's congregation. After the service, there is the equally pleasant walk back followed by breakfast at the house. This morning [l to r], David, Simone and Chris poised for a photo...


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Sunrise 6:18: Walk through forest and field

It's a long time since from dawn, in fact the Dawn Joggers have just been watching a nighttime thunderstorm from the porch of the house they're staying at in Ameungy. But earlier today, they enjoyed a four mile walk across the varied terrain of southern Burgundy - vines, meadows, and forest starting and ending in Chapaize, yet another pretty little village. And this village also featured a good place to have lunch (Restaurant St. Martin) at the end of their jaunt...


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sunrise 6:20: From dawn to dusk in Ameugny

It was one of those days for the Dawn Joggers. Started out on a much less frosty morning than yesterday, and the female Dawn Jogger took advantage of the route that the male DJ had shown her yesterday - very backroads - to take a jog around Ameugny, a village that is bigger in circumference than realized at first inspection. Then after a day's travels about, including a great lunch at Maison Doucet in Charolles, it was back to the same route, this time walked with the male DJ. Taize was glowing the early evening sunlight...


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Sunrise 6:21: Purple against the grey skies

A heavy overcast and cooler temperatures greeted the Dawn Joggers this morning, enough so that the female DJ wished she'd put on gloves to walk to the morning Taize service. The lack of sunshine meant the yellow fields glimmered less but didn't detract from the purple of lilac and iris that adorn many of the village houses in Ameugny. Purple sits well against grey skies, the female DJ thinks...


Monday, May 04, 2009

Sunrise 6:22: Charolais everywhere you look

As evident from these postings, the area around Cluny and Cormatin, France - which the Dawn Jogger's village of Ameugny is between - is teaming with Charolais cattle, not surprisingly as the breed originated just to the southeast. And while the female Dawn Jogger does take other photos, the females with calves at their side, just personify springtime in this part of Burgundy, along with the fields ablaze with yellow wildflowers. Today the DJs walked around the medieval village St-Gengoux-le-National and its surrounding farms (after the morning service at Taize). And the cattle were, once again, perfectly poising...


Sunday, May 03, 2009

Sunrise 6:24: Spectacular walk in the countryside

The Dawn Joggers headed out this morning on what was supposed to be a four-mile loop max. They both studied the Randonnee map at their departure point, which was just a short distance from the house where they are staying in Ameugny. Sitting on the house porch, they looked out across a valley to another ridge of hills - some planted with rapeseed - and the route appeared to take them down into the valley a bit before looping back through Taize. The route was newly marked, so how could they go wrong? Well they reached the other side of the valley and given that there was no sign of looping back, they retraced their route. They figured that they'd walked six miles, the longest distance the male DJ had traversed in 2 1/2 years, so a notable achievement. (Not to mention the fact that it was over uneven ground on up and down terrain.) All in all, a spectacular walk in the countryside on a very pretty spring day...


Saturday, May 02, 2009

Sunrise 6:25: Out and about in Southern Burgundy

The Dawn Joggers started their morning at the weekly market in Cluny - much to the delight of the male DJ who made stops at multiple produce, cheese, and poultry vendors for meals later in the week. This delayed their walking until their afternoon (hence not quite at "first blush"). The started with a walk around the grounds of Chateau Cormatin, where the female DJ spotted a young draft horse of unknown breed and gender at the edge of the property (no, those buildings aren't the chateau). Later, they did another loop around Ameungy/Taize. Of note: people are everywhere this holiday weekend, prompting one to wonder how hard the recession has hit France...


Friday, May 01, 2009

Sunrise 6:27: It's springtime in southern Burgundy

The female Dawn Jogger woke up before sunrise this morning, by her jet-lagged body clock about the time she would be going to bed if she was in California. Rather than try to go back to sleep, she decided to get up and take a jog around the neighborhood. There's a good four or so mile loop from the house in Ameungy (direction Cormatin), then back along the Voie Verte toward Cluny, climbing the hill to pass by Taize before returning to the house. Everywhere she looked something was in bloom, wildflowers in the fields, irises along the country roads. Many of the Charolais (who outnumber humans as neighbors) have fairly young calves by their sides. It is France in its springtime splendor. She was back in time to attend the 8:15 Taize service with Chris and David. OK, so she's going to crash this afternoon...