Patches and Penelope: Adventure on the High Seas


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On good days, when the jet engines are quiet and I pass by the pipeline signs without noticing them, when my eye is caught by the purple and green of spring lupine, my canyon does, indeed, have the power to exalt the mind. How much land do I need, and what do I need it for? Do I actually need the land or only the knowledge that the land is there? Space or a photograph that suggests vastness set apart? Not empty space, because empty implies something in need of filling. Certainly not unoccupied. By people, yes, but not if you think of rabbits and rattlesnakes, bobcats and cougars.

One night after she'd had a glass of wine, a woman I ride with in the canyon suggested the park service should remove the cougars that live around here because, unlike us locals, outsiders don't know there are cougars in the canyon, and cougars are dangerous.

Is it true people don't know the difference between a small strip of grass next to the freeway and a canyon full of wild acres? Is it true they don't know that to live comfortably, a cougar needs thirty thousand acres to call its own? Two days ago, running along the canyon bottom, I surprised two hikers, not hikers really, a man and a woman in street shoes.

The man grinned. I told him there were deer, and I was about to add coyotes and bobcats but decided to let it go at the deer. Some people say they need space, and lots of it, so they can feel free. But free from what? The artificial constraints of civilization, as one rancher put it, the crowds and the compromises. An area big enough and open enough to feel safe from outsiders, an out-of-the-way place.

But out of the way of what? A place to burrow in, where every day you see mountains and you don't have to wait for one lucky day on the freeway when the traffic stops? Putting distance, enormous distance, between yourself and the rest of us, ah, now that's perfection. I hear some people look for solace in nature, to minimize grief or anxiety. What's the idea here?

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You look at the mountains, you imagine a grizzly tearing at the side of a salmon, and all's right with the world? And if not now, soon? Some people say they find comfort in the order they find in nature. In the midst of what doesn't make sense in their lives, they find a reasonableness that's reassuring. Others say they connect with something in the silence the wind blows their way; they imagine life on that picture-perfect mountain is simpler than what batters them day-to-day.

There is also nature as adventure, a way to test oneself, like the mountain bikers who ride at night in my canyon, dodging April rattlesnakes. Other people hope that what they experience in nature will bring out the best in them, that the sight of the San Gabriel Mountains with a dusting of snow will stir inner resources. Living in that faraway place, out of sight of the rest of the world for a week or a lifetime, some people say they come to terms with themselves, with life at its most primitive, that nature is their place to find God. Live in the moment and feel yourself connected with the web of life.

Given this kind of awakening, a small patch of open land next to the freeway becomes sacred, as removed from what is real as the converted are from the rest of us. Do you notice the common denominator, the reference point? It's us. Are we running from each other, do you think, or do we yearn to be outside ourselves, to be part of something larger? It's a good deal to ask from a small patch of open ground next to the freeway, a sharp granite ridge. And what do we bring to the party?

Only ourselves, it seems, loaded down both with enthusiasm and angst. Isak Dinesen said it: "There is no world without Nairobi's streets. More than one biologist has said it: We are driven to conquer, even as we fear the loss of what is distant and unknown and mysterious.

by Kate Douglas Wiggin.

A poet in a workshop in Moab, Utah, said it: "I never thought of apple trees as nature. We build our houses to take advantage of the view. Los Angeles from the Hollywood Hills mimics the vastness of a rolling sea. In the California desert, writer-naturalist Mary Austin sought a place where her "creature instincts" might grow, where she could find "room enough and time enough.

In my canyon there is not quite enough room. If I have the dogs with me, I also have to watch for the park ranger's truck. It's fifty dollars if he catches me with the border collies off-leash. Even in April I walk around the yard barefoot, as if the fence will keep the rattlesnakes out. Your place is in the grass across the road.

Penelope Disick pushes her mom Kourtney Kardashian's pumpkin cart at patch

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Patches and Penelope: Adventure on the High Seas Patches and Penelope: Adventure on the High Seas
Patches and Penelope: Adventure on the High Seas Patches and Penelope: Adventure on the High Seas
Patches and Penelope: Adventure on the High Seas Patches and Penelope: Adventure on the High Seas
Patches and Penelope: Adventure on the High Seas Patches and Penelope: Adventure on the High Seas
Patches and Penelope: Adventure on the High Seas Patches and Penelope: Adventure on the High Seas
Patches and Penelope: Adventure on the High Seas Patches and Penelope: Adventure on the High Seas
Patches and Penelope: Adventure on the High Seas Patches and Penelope: Adventure on the High Seas

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