I went hiking twice over the weekend in Malibu Creek State Park, and during those several hours each day it hardly occurred to me that I was unemployed for the first time in my adult life.
This says a lot about the wonders of nature and its power to distract from the realities of civilization. My senses seemed heightened as I strolled among hillsides made green by recent rains, and alongside creeks that, thankfully, no longer seemed dying of thirst.
This is not to say I completely forgot about my plight. For starters, I parked with the cheapskates outside park boundaries--at the Las Virgenes Road/Mulholland Highway intersection--to avoid paying the $12 vehicle entrance fee.
I was with my brother, who is worried about his job, and we both turned our heads shamefully as we walked past the manned entrance, as if we were in violation.
But once inside the helpless feeling vanished and was replaced by a desire to explore. We took side trails to avoid crowds and in more remote areas people sounds were replaced by birdsong and the occasional cry of a hawk.
On Sunday, high on the Chaparral Trail, we encountered an older man with long, silver hair. He looked like a wizard and said he was nearing completion of a 15-mile loop around and through the park. Though he looked to be at least 70 we did not doubt his story, as this seemed his domain as much as it's that of the animals.
Dusk was close at hand and the wizard told us if we walked to the campground meadow the deer would be emerging for their evening browse. The herd is healthy this year, he added, explaining he had counted 22 during a recent afternoon.
"That means the mountain lions aren't doing their job," he said with a smile.