In the late 1970s, I ran cross-country and track at University High School in Orange County. We spent much of our time training in the hills that rose up behind the suburban houses and tennis courts. On some days we would take off from school and run for miles and miles until we reached the ocean.
We ran through the active rangeland for the cattle, learning how to hop barbed wire fences and to avoid the Irvine Company jeeps that patrolled the landscape. As we ran, our socks became covered with the seeds of grasses that covered the hillside. I guess we were helping to spread certain types of grasses over the landscape and perhaps into the green parks nearer our homes. I remember the uncomfortable feeling of having a sock full of prickers and having to pull them out at night before putting them into the hamper.
Tony P. has been out to stay with us from New York. He is in town for a celebration of his parent's 50th anniversary. Tony and I met in 1974 while on the cross-country team. He shares my fascination with the landscape and culture of Irvine. This weekend we talked about our runs in the hills--the freedom to explore the landscape in the warm afternoon sun of Southern California.
Irvine was just in its beginning stages of development and much of the land was still given over to ranching and agriculture. We chased teammates through fields of bell pepper and alfalfa. Long-distance running allowed us to experience the beauty of the hills before they were filled with houses and closely-cropped lawns.
"What makes you grow old is replacing hope with regret" - Patty Loveless