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Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Old Khayyám and I

A Walk at Skyline Ridge - Summer 2007

We go back a long way, old Khayyám of Nishapur and I. It was before I knew the taste of wine. But the first time I read Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám I got hooked. The versions mentioned below relate to Edward FitzGerald's translations of the Rubaiyat. Omar Khayyám. of course, was dead for centuries (died in 1131 according to some accounts) when I read him but that is not important. In some ways he was a kindred spirit. A man of many talents who wrote about wine and women.....and didn't seem to pay any heed to the scriptures. Perhaps that is why I like his writing.

Wonder how he got away with it. In today's world of Islamic fundos there would be a fatwa on his head. Perhaps the fact that he was a renowned astronomer and mathematician, in the good graces of the ruler (Vizier), protected him from their wrath. Or maybe there were enlightened mullahs in Persia, if such a thing was possible.

"Alike for those who for today prepare,
And those that after some tomorrow stare,
A Muezzin from the tower of darkness cries,
'Fools! Your reward is neither here nor there'. "
--Second Version, 1868

Edward FitzGerald (31 March June 1883), the superb translator of the Rubaiyat, was reported to be a dour man who lived the life of an ascetic.

Here we are in July and the weather continues to be mild. Unusual, but I'm not complaining. Arani Sinha and I went on a great hike (up Stevens Creek Canyon and down) on Sunday. Yesterday, JHL and I drove up Page Mill Road to hike at Skyline Ridge, one of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) preserves. Alpine Pond is barely 200 yards from the parking lot. We followed the Ridge Trail to Horseshoe Lake, about 1.5 miles and found a shady place to sit down for lunch.

Alpine Pond Visitor's Center
©Musafir July 9,2007

Alpine Pond
©Musafir July 9,2007

Looking west toward the coast
©Musafir July 9, 2007

Horseshoe Lake
©Musafir July 9, 2007

Horseshoe Lake, another view
©Musafir July 9,2007

JHL on the Ridge Trail
©Musafir July 9, 2007

Time for wild flowers is past but we saw some sticky monkeys, patches of clarkias and a place where there were a few penstemmons.
Penstemmons alongside Ridge Trail
©Musafir July 9, 2007

Patch of Clarkias (Farewell to Spring) ©Musafir July 9, 2007

Picnic by the lake
©Musafir July 9, 2007

With a glass of wine...for Old Khayyám
©JHL July 9, 2007

We had penne and shrimps in a tomato, garlic, basil sauce; rosemary flavored ciabatta from Grace Bakery; large slices of tomato drizzled with olive oil, salt and julienned basil (the juice from the tomato mixes with the oil and makes a great sauce to dip the bread); and fresh figs baked with just a small amount of honey and lavender sprigs -- a little cream can be added at the end for richness (I had it for dessert somewhere in Provence and my efforts come pretty close to the taste I remember). All washed down with a sauvignon blanc, followed by JHL's strong dark roast coffee from Peets. It cannot get any better.

We then continued on down to Lambert Creek. It is a one-way trail and we had to exert ourselves to walk back up to the Ridge Trail on the return leg. Hiking poles helped.

There are times when old Khayyám reappears, and the picnic by the lake yesterday was one of those.

"Here with a loaf of bread beneath the bough
A flask of wine, a book of verse--and thou
Beside me singing in the wilderness

And wilderness is paradise enow."
-- First Version, 1859

Well, the birds did the singing.

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