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Reflection: Fiscalini Preserve in Cambria can settle the worried mind

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It's hard not to look back at the end of the year. Not to get too nostalgic, too wistful, too analytical. Not to reflect too much on the things that have passed, those rare pieces of life that you remember to take with you, at least.

So many instances whiz along without notice. Gone forever, scattered between the bits of memory that remain filed away, waiting to be pulled out at the opportune moment. When you need to feel happy, sad, angry, resistant, insistent. The rest simply disappears.

I usually don't regret much, but this year is a little different. I was so busy trying to move ahead that I forgot to enjoy my life, to recharge in the way that's special to me. To take the time to move outside as much as I usually do, to stare at the ocean in quiet reverie or move along a trail in silence as life melts into the background. Tripping along in my favorite spots on the coast tends to ease the worries and anxieties that crop up in a life filled with work, school, family, the gym, and whatever other obligations I've tied myself and my free time to.

RAIN-SOAKED The Ridge Trail has a coating of tanbark covering the dirt track, but the rain from the days before Christmas hadn't quite percolated through the ground yet. - PHOTOS BY CAMILLIA LANHAM
  • Photos By Camillia Lanham
  • RAIN-SOAKED The Ridge Trail has a coating of tanbark covering the dirt track, but the rain from the days before Christmas hadn't quite percolated through the ground yet.

Not to get too deep or cliché—although it's definitely too late for that—but what the hell was I thinking? With three days off over Christmas and another house project I promised myself I would complete, I also decided it was time to take time out and revisit my reveries and reflections. To take a breath of some cold salty wind and hit the coast with the dog. And I definitely wasn't the only one.

So after applying wall texture and a trip to the gym, I meander up to Cambria, deciding on the way up there that I'm heading for the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. I'd only been there once before and had gotten a little lost on the trails, because they wander all over the property. You can stay up high with a view, move into the pine and oak trees, or head out to the bluffs along the ocean. There are miles of trails, criss-crossing the preserve with strategically placed benches for those silent reveries.

With all of the December rain, green pokes through the spindly layers of fall brush and rivulets of water run down the pavement. As I park by the trailhead on South Windsor Boulevard, I can see I'm not the only one looking to enjoy a little bit of sun. Walking up to the trailhead on Marlborough Lane, I can see four dogs with their owners running in circles on the paved trail ahead. I opt for the dirt track that climbs off to the right, stepping up the hillside to the ironically named Meander Trail.

MAJESTIC COMFORT Looking at the expanse, a row of cypress trees pushes back into the Monterey pine and oak forest on the eastern side of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. - PHOTOS BY CAMILLIA LANHAM
  • Photos By Camillia Lanham
  • MAJESTIC COMFORT Looking at the expanse, a row of cypress trees pushes back into the Monterey pine and oak forest on the eastern side of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve.

Wet tire tracks extend from a bench at the top, heading north along the side of the hill with views of the Pacific Coast. It's warm, and I take off my sweatshirt. Only on the Central Coast, people! For a few serene moments, I'm the only one in sight. Trees flank me on the right and grasslands stretch out to the left. I come upon another bench and decide to head across to the other side of the preserve, meeting up with the Ridge Trail that spits you out along Huntington Road.

The best bench I come across—and there are a lot of benches, people—sits on this trail beneath the protective boughs of a gorgeous cypress tree. Dolphins carved into the wood jump from the seat. A little beyond this, a small pine tree sparkles with large green and red ornaments. The trail's marshy and a chilly wind whips up in spurts from the ocean. A deep breath and a smile. Footsteps working to miss water. Panting and prancing paw-steps. I'm not sure why I haven't done this as much this year as I have in years past.

But I guess if I had one New Year's resolution, it would be to do exactly this. Δ

Editor Camillia Lanham is in the middle of self-reflection on the hillside. Send thoughts to clanham@newtimesslo.com.

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