"mercy on this refuge"

Dedicated to my hike-loving partner and all the keepers of the parks – national, regional, and municipal – who have kept us sane during this year of lockdowns and social distance, this week's episode is inspired by a recent ramble along Franklin Ridge near Martinez.

The East Bay's crumpled topography is beginning its seasonal turn from sepia-stained gold to vivid, glowing green, with grass and wildflower seedlings poking up out of the course, heavy, rust-brown soils. Cows lowed low their displeasure at our approach, while chubby ground squirrels flitted from burrow to burrow, scooping up the last of the acorns and bay nuts. Bloody-headed turkey vultures shakily coasted weak air thermals, and tufted flycatchers, on the hunt, hovered a few feet above the trails. We found signs of a mountain lion kill – easy prey: a small calf – stripped down to tendon and bone and still tacky and red with gore. Overlooks were dominated by Mount Diablo stabbing upwards in the near distance, the shaggy oak forests of the northern Briones slopes, and the teeming tidal wetlands and salt marshes of Grizzly Island, looking so empty from so far. It didn't take long to also notice that the panorama holds jutting tanks and towers and ventstacks of the Shell Refinery, the swelling sprawl of suburban Contra Costra, and the bright white windmills standing at attention in the Montezuma Hills. And then you hear it: the incessant hush of highway traffic – the ubiquitous agglomerate of thousands of rubber tires clawing asphalt, millions of cycles of tiny explosions, and billions of cubic feet of air displaced by hurtling plastic, glass, and metal. And you will perceive this intrusion of white noise for most of the rest of the hike.

Let's take a musical stroll together. Our trail markers will be JACK Quartet's recent recording of John Luther Adams' Lines Made by Walking as we meander classical and experimental works inspired by natural landscapes and ecologies. Today's playlist will will sing homage and elegy for geology and flora and fauna. Enjoy and happy New Year.

Playlist

  1. Lines Made by Walking: I. Up the Mountain by JACK Quartet on John Luther Adams: Lines Made by Walking (Cold Blue Music)
  2. David Biedenbender: Red Vesper by Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble on Dawn Chorus: Music Inspired by Our National Parks (Innova)
  3. lakes by Gia Margaret on Mia Gargaret (Orindal)
  4. Kate Moore: Sliabh Beagh by Lisa Moore on The Stone People (Cantaloupe)
  5. Alexandra Gardner: Vixen by Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble on Dawn Chorus: Music Inspired by Our National Parks (Innova)
  6. Gabriella Smith: Maré by yMusic on Ecstatic Science (New Amsterdam)
  7. Lines Made by Walking: II. Along the Ridges by JACK Quartet on John Luther Adams: Lines Made by Walking (Cold Blue Music)
  8. Visited By Bears by Natalia Beylis on The Steadfast Starry Universe (Eiderdown)
  9. Johann Heinrich Schmelzer: Cucu Sonata (1664) by Simone Slattery, Anthony Albrecht on Where Song Began (Bowerbird Collective)
  10. Isaac Schankler: Pheromone for flute(s), piano, and electronics by Meerenai Shim, Jacob Abela on Pheromone (Aerocade) Local
  11. The Hills are Alive by Charles Spearin and Josefin Runsteen on Thank God The Plague is Over (self released)
  12. Shulamit Ran: Birds of Paradise - Sparkling, energetic by Sarah Frisof, Daniel Pesca on Beauty Crying Forth: Flute Music by Women Across Time ( Furious Artisans)
  13. Lines Made by Walking: III. Down the Mountain by JACK Quartet on John Luther Adams: Lines Made by Walking (Cold Blue Music)
  14. I. Kyrie by Gallicantus on Sarah Kirkland Snider: Mass for the Endangered (Nonesuch/New Amsterdam)
  15. Monolith by Zoë Keating on Into the Trees (Deluxe Edition) (self released)
  16. The Last Bird by Zoë Keating on Into the Trees (Deluxe Edition) (self released)
  17. Between the Hawthorn and Extinction by Stuart Hyatt, Player Piano, Julien Marchal on Ultrasonic (Temporary Residence)