Mt. Tamalpais Trail Shadows | Mark Lindsay

I've lived in Marin County, California for some 29 years. In that time I've met and married my wife, been promoted and fired, lost most of my hair, and had several midlife crises along with a couple significant reminders of my mortality. All in all a heady run down the river-rapids of life.

In all that time, Mt. Tamalpais has loomed over me like a sentry, silently blessing my days and nights. For much of my life I was in a cloud of self-absorption, barely noticing the mountain nor anything else that was not in my direct path. Mt. Tam had been a towering mystery to me, a place so close that I took it for granted. I knew it in the most superficial of ways, seeing it out my window when I chose to look that way.

It took time for my heart to truly open to Mt. Tam. One day, some years back, I began to notice how the mountain would wear a cloud hat whenever the weather was about to change towards rain. And I discovered that the rain would be serious when the mountain was shrouded completely, it's reappearance signaling the storm's end. It is that way with the mountain. Subtle things reveal themselves with time: the fog's behavior, the light snow cap after cold storms, the shimmering glare of a heat wave.

This past year I've moved in closer to the mountain and started hiking its world-class trails. I've gone from an aloof observer to a companion of the peak. This past week, as I straddled the side of Mt. Tam and looked down upon the Pacific Ocean, I began to wonder why it took me so long to walk these trails. Was I really that busy? Were all those things that cluttered my life really that important? As a hawk soared over me, catching the rising air in its wings, I sucked in the grassy fragrance being released by the warm sun. And then I made this photograph, feeling the gratitude of it all.