Cambrian: Opinion

Mountain Musings: It’s resolution time again

A beckoning bench offers a rewarding respite.
A beckoning bench offers a rewarding respite. PHOTO BY MARCIA RHOADES © 2010

It’s January again, and you know what that means—New Year’s resolutions. Hey, no whining. It’s an American tradition. My resolution is to continue eating healthier than I did two years ago. I promise myself to regard doughnuts, cake and pie a la mode as occasional treats instead of three major food groups. And I promise myself to exercise more, which is sort of the 10-times-nothing approach.

When you live in Cambria’s backcountry as I do, eating healthy should be a no-brainer. We have an orchard and a garden, plus wild mushrooms and miner’s lettuce. Since we have a long standing pact with the deer and wild turkeys to be good neighbors, they are safe. I’m not much interested in eating mouse, rat, bobcat, mountain lion, coyote, skunk, or bear meat, so that just leaves those dangerous trips to the market. Eat before you go is the first rule of grocery shopping if you expect your cart to have the good sense to gather only healthy items in its spin down the aisles.

Living so far from town, the idea of a gym membership seems pointless to me. It’s way too far to drive to make myself miserable when all I have to do is walk outside. Most of the land around here slants, either straight up or straight down. If I want to sweat and make my muscles cry out in alarm, all I have to do is take a walk. For a great cardio workout, it can’t be beat. What about weight lifting, you ask? We have trees for that. What? In old growth forests, the number of trees or huge limbs that come down each year is astounding. If I want to lift weights, and I’m not saying I do, I could lift trees and limbs for weeks just to clear away the old fellows that have fallen into the path of something — like a path.

I have to confess that I pretty much hate exercise — at least, the hard kind. I can walk for miles on the beach or on the boardwalk at Moonstone. Any place that’s flat is my kind of walking. Up here, I have to psych myself up for the task of hiking through tangled brush, walking into the inevitable tree branches I don’t see because I’m busy looking where my feet are trying to go, and hiking up hills so steep I have to hold onto branches to pull myself up. Personally, I find it exhausting and intimidating. But, I still do it — now and then — and feel rather pleased with myself when I manage to get home all in one piece and with my sense of humor intact.

Sometimes it takes me most of the day to talk myself into the tough hikes. Yesterday, late in the afternoon, my husband John and I decided to check out part of the ranch where I’ve never been before.

It was a much longer walk than I anticipated. Not surprisingly, it was starting to get dark when we were still far, far from home, so we decided on a shortcut across some challenging hogbacks. Our beacon was a bench given to John by handy and creative friends. Once we reached the bench, we would be almost home.

This special January, the beginning of a new decade, I’m going to try to keep my resolutions past the end of the month. Good luck with your resolutions, Cambria.

Marcia Rhoades lives in Cambria’s Santa Lucia mountain community. E-mail her at