Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Win One for the Planet

Deep breath.
Back to reality after the splendid weekend of Jewish community, rest, joy, prayer, meditation, yoga, walks in the woods, pickle making, amazing food, and--oh, yes!--the magnificent bike ride.

The ride itself started Sunday morning, bright and early, from Winchester Woods retreat center in Occidental. We read the travelers prayer in Hebrew, English and Arabic. I had the honor again to sound the ram's horn to signal the start.

Chilly and clear skies were very welcome after last year's frigid deluge. The experience was very different, having only some strong winds to battle on the first day. It was much more conducive to savoring the scenery under these circumstances. Many more smiles. And a few more miles, too--taken to avoid the most killer ascent from last year. We rode out the Bohemian Highway about 12 miles to Route 1 on the Pacific coast. My only regret was that we only went along the shore about 8 miles before heading back inland--no better way to take in the coast than rolling along the green bluff overlooking the beach, black rock outcroppings pushing up from the foamy surf, with expansive deep blue sea and sky beyond. The climbs were still sufficiently challenging, and had their own beauty. Surprisingly, the much anticipated final descent into the valley on Sunday was regrettably rigorous given the head wind we encountered. Nonetheless, months of preparation seemed to have had the desired effect--not just the muscles, but the breathing, and the mental resolve--all carried me through.

After close to 60 miles we arrived at Walker Creek ranch--a Marin County educational farm. I settled in, and then took a brief tour--fed willow leaves to some goats. The sheep preferred to stay at a distance. We sampled bits of the organic garden that school kids from all over the state get to work on during their week-long visits to Walker Creek. If you've never tried raw rhubarb, I recommend it! (not the leaves--they're toxic--just the stems. One of our evening activities was a viewing of the documentary Flow--"a case against the growing privatization of the world's dwindling fresh water supply with an unflinching focus on politics, pollution, human rights, and the emergence of a domineering world water cartel." This is clearly a topic that warrants further examination.

Monday, a shorter ride--about 45 miles. Not as much climbing. Less windy. A bit less scenic mile for mile than Sunday, as we went through suburbia on the way to San Francisco. Nonetheless, riding into Sausalito is always exciting. Riding over the Golden Gate Bridge--especially fun on a clear, crisp day. I'm not sure we were supposed to ride through as much of the Presidio as we did on our way to Temple Emanuel, but the scenic route we took offered some views of the city that I had never seen before.

When it was all done the memory of the intense grinding, pedal after pedal, seemed to magically disappear (except for a little soreness today). What we were left with was a profound sense of appreciation for the privilege of being with such a unique community--diverse in many ways and united in our love of Judaism and repair of the planet. Grateful for Hazon--Nigel Savage's vision that is unfolding before our eyes--working to create sustainable communities throughout the world. Grateful for the Hazon staff, the volunteer crew supporting the ride, our fellow riders, and of course to all of the contributors. The full expression of gratitude came as we stood in a circle in the temple courtyard singing the Shehecheyanu prayer--thanking God for our lives, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this precious moment.

Your contributions propelled me to the top of the donation chart for most of the last five months. Two days before the ride, a fellow rider was so tired of seeing my name at the top of the list that she contacted her friends and offered her personal matching fund for additional contributions. I am content being at number two knowing that we inspired others to give more generously. My "competitor" and I got a laugh out of it and became friends--a win-win-win, with Hazon, or I should say the planet, being the big winner.

Thank you so much for your support. And yes, for a few stragglers--donations are still being accepted at http://hazon.kintera.org/2011caride/yesh.


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