ZUBIN
MATHAI
author of the oarsman
No Humans!
December 2, 2016

Today was a playful hike, where the morning was cool enough that shady parts were tricksters that lingered too long, and the sunny patches were welcomed, making me slow to a crawl to relish their warmth.

I saw the usual birds scatter from trees when I neared, the panicked lizards zig-zagging across the trail, and I also saw a lot of people. Fridays are always a bit busier in Ojai, but I had hoped that with the cooler temperatures people would not hike so early in the morning.

After the first three groups of people passed, and we exchanged our hellos and head-nods, I felt a little mischievous. I didn’t mind the quietly happy dogs being walked, but wasn’t so much in the mood for the chattering humans. And so I decided to avoid all of them for the rest of the hike.

I went up to Fuelbreak road and had the choice to turn left or right. When I saw a cyclist racing down from the right, I turned left and picked up my pace. When I heard a woman talking on her phone as she walked her dog, I walked as fast as I could, just a shade under a run, and dove back down onto Fox Canyon. I went over to Pratt when I heard people further down on Fox, and I continued that way, until I made my way back to my car in treasured silence.

I giggled on the inside at the accomplishment, that I didn’t say hello to another person on that hike. I was okay with it for today, for I knew I had given my greetings over to the trail and to nature, and I knew it, in turn, would greet everyone who passed through its midst.