A Walk to Remember

The California Valley has been baking under triple digits temperatures for the last two weeks. A brutal form of Indian summer that even after seven years I still don’t handle well.
Last night there was a subtle yet distinct change in the air and I opened the windows. The air conditioning didn’t kick in during the night. The house early morning had cooled off to a nice 70F.
The air smelled of dry hay and the breeze had chased the smoke rising from the wildfire burning in Sequoia National Park. Soon, I thought, we will see the coastal range from home.
It was a perfect day for my first cool-weather run in weeks. Above the trail that cut through the San Joaquin Valley, white clouds billowed in the blue sky and the Sierras appeared after days of smog. The premise of fall gave me wings.
I wasn’t alone to feel the same eagerness. People had a smile on their face. Bikers, walkers, runners, dogs, babies and children came from everywhere responding to the welcoming change of weather.
What a difference when I remembered last night CNN news. I watched with my daughter who was supposed to study for an AP history test. History is also what’s happening today, right?
Anderson Cooper was interviewing a pastor who is planning the burning of Qurans on September 11. He was as much of an extremist as the extremists who attacked the USA nine years ago. Then a panel of commentators discussed the building or not the building of a mosque close to ground zero. I turned the TV off at 11:00 p.m., tired yet wired too. Too much information, too many pros and cons that were going nowhere.
This morning, on a perfect California day that can only bring the best from everyone, I only saw people looking forward to a change of weather, to a new season. I had to switch from a run to a brisk walk in order to respond to the many hellos and how are you?
Of course it could only remind me of my fist days in the USA when such friendliness was almost too much. Today more than ever, only days away from the anniversary of September 11, the American cheerfulness, optimism, and natural curiosity toward others, felt just right.
Within an hour I had forgotten about the inflammatory words, the bigotry and the mosque from last night.

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