Tag Archives: Indian Rock

Bay views and scramblers.

When the fields and playgrounds are swampy from all the rain, what better place to go than up, up to the hills of North Berkeley where all those boulders are so perfectly and naturally arranged for scrambling fun?

Pippin’s family was down for the weekend, partly as a belated birthday getaway for her, an escape from the snow and cold to a slightly warmer part of the state. She suggested going to Indian Rock, which throughout her life she had heard about from me, but never visited.

It was the last day of showers for a while – only a few drops splashed on us midday, and we were able to explore three boulder-strewn parks in a three-block radius. We also looked at the house where the children’s great-great-grandmother had lived, in yesteryear when I used to play on these rocks, and take brisk walks through the neighborhoods with my Grandma. In those days I didn’t appreciate all the flowers and trees so much!

From two of those parks you can look west and see the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge at the same time. I’m only showing the Golden Gate in the photo below.

Here’s a map to help you get your bearings; Berkeley is in the “East Bay”:

In Mortar Rock Park we saw the evidence of primitive grinding — probably acorns — that gives it that name, and Ivy found the perfect tree for climbing when she plays her frequent leopard role. Not many other puddles were on the rocks, so we stayed nice and dry.

The family  had traveled most of the previous day just to get to my house, and this day we drove a lot more on our explorations. Near sunset we were passing by the uppermost link of the San Francisco Bay Trail; the Professor encouraged Pippin and me to get out while he waited in the car with the sleeping children. Scout woke up and joined us to walk at the top of San Pablo Bay. Along the bank orange flags marked a forestation project in process. We wondered what they have planted, but didn’t recognize the little seedlings. I held one as still as possible against the wind to take its picture in case I see that plant again.

The wind was fierce, and the waterfowl were mostly bedded down, but we liked getting the wide views, including a moon pretty much full round. We were pushed down the path by the wind at our backs, making it easy to walk almost too far that way. Returning against the current was more bracing, refreshing, exciting even — but invigorating is probably not the right word when you get back to the car as stiff as boards. We warmed up when we got home, and thought every part of the day had contributed to our contentment.

Not Lazy Summer Days


To be precise, summer only began yesterday, so I shouldn’t be complaining about the lack of hours sitting on a patio with tea, or in the shade reading a book. I will likely yet have time before we get to the fall equinox for solitary early-morning weeding sessions in the garden while towhees splash in the birdbath nearby. But lately I’ve been doing so many fun and good things, I’ve been getting a bit depleted.

A week ago today, I was baking pies. It was a satisfyingly creative job, even if I did have a huge mess afterward.

Initially I wanted to bake an apple pie for the father of my children, for Father’s Day. And at church the ladies were bringing in pies for the agape meal, also in honor of the day. I made three for that contribution, using up some flaked coconut and other goodies in my pantry.

This one above left was named Million Dollar Pie where I found the recipe online, but as I improved it by cutting the sugar in half, I’ll make that Two Million Dollars. It must have tasted like a candy bar, what with the coconut, chocolate chips and walnuts it featured, but none was left over for me to try.

The recipe I found for Coconut Pineapple Pie made two pies from a 14-oz. bag of flaked coconut and a large can of crushed pineapple, with some eggs and butter, etc. in the mix. I did get a taste of that concoction, and I wonder if it might have had more zing if I’d used a name brand of pineapple. Even with its sugar cut in half it was a little too blandly sweet for me, but people liked it.

My newest favorite kitchen gadget got used that day: silicone pie crust shields. In the past I used aluminum foil to keep my crusts from getting too brown, but foil is not nearly as handy.

The day after Father’s Day grandson “Pat” flew to California all by his lonesome from D.C.’s Ronald Reagan Airport, mostly to spend a while with Pippin’s family, but we grandparents had the happy task of meeting him at the Oakland airport. Oakland is next door to Berkeley, where year by year I as a child visited my own grandparents, so we stopped in that old neighborhood of Indian Rock and Indian Rock Park in the Berkeley Hills.

Indian Rock

My sisters and I used to play here, just down the block from my grandma’s house, and even my father had his picture taken on the Rock when he was a small boy. It’s such a lovely thing that the houses were built all around this cluster of craggy boulders that seem more likely to be found in the Sierra Nevada. Pat climbed “cross country” on them, while we older people used the flights of steps long ago cut in the rock.

My father in 1927

From the top you can see far and wide, both the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge, and at the bottom, where the hill slopes into the town of Albany, it’s possible to walk down to Solano Avenue by way of stairs passing between houses. It takes only a few minutes to go this way, descending to shops and in my grandma’s time, her beauty parlor and the ice cream parlor that she let us visit by ourselves. Those were the days when children were safe.

After a couple of days having Pat all to ourselves, I drove him north to have adventures with the Professor and fun little cousins.; we listened to most of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader on the way up, with me interrupting frequently to say, “Would you look at all those sunflowers!” (There were a couple of thousand acres, I think, visible from I-5.) and “Those are tomatoes in that field, and this is alfalfa….” Sadly, we couldn’t get one of those faraway views of Mt. Shasta because of clouds.

I had a few sweet hours with Scout and Ivy before I wore myself out driving back the very next day. I needed to come home and get ready for multiple house guests, and for events such as the much anticipated Feast of Pentecost.

Friday morning when I was back watering the garden I discovered that more of my unusually colored California poppies had bloomed, like this one.

A brief look-around at my flowers didn’t seem to be enough R&R, though, so I asked Mr. Glad to take me to the coast where I could “just sit and stare at the ocean.” He was happy to comply.


The weather wasn’t as summery and calm as the predictors had led us to expect, but the fog hung around only thinly so that we mostly noticed the sunshine. I tied a bandana around my head so that the wind wouldn’t make a total tangle of my hair, and we sat in the lee of a sand dune where I could rake my fingers through the warm sand for an hour.

I don’t know how long I may have to wait to experience even a short string of rejuvenating days, but for now I think my half of a lazy afternoon will do nicely.