The Weekly - July 30, 2020 - 28

Field Notes
O N

T H E

R O C K

The Anchor
of Care

During a time when it's hard to get a hold of
anything, a climber finds how to take the measure of her world by getting back on the rock.
By Endria Richardson
2.
TIME IS A DISTANCE TOO. I HAVE

distance. I drive up Shoreline
Highway in Northern California,
Coast Miwok land. The drive feels
muscular; the wheels of my car
pull us over the ashen road, tighten
along the curves, gallop distance
with a hum of effort. Someone else
(a number of someone elses) cared
for my car last week-oiled her,
replaced her knock sensors, gave
her new fuel injectors. Because of
their care, we lean against Mount
Tamalpais, which bends up from
the Earth to our right (and so we
lean away from the flat palm of the
ocean that lifts and falls to our left),
and she hums, and her wheels press
against the road.
I don't think of any of this as
I close the distance between me
and three friends waiting at a dirt
pullout just up the highway. I think
about whether my mother is sad
(the texts I haven't sent); the space
I have taken from reading about
the state of Blackness in America
(two weeks); about the way in which
I guard my body, mind, and heart
against parts of this country (the
podcast I am listening to about alt
right YouTubers). I pass cyclists,
giving them more than 3 feet. I am
growing used to measuring care by
the distance we keep between us.

so much time these days-if time
is a thing that can be had, which I
think, it isn't-and still I feel immeasurably far from being able to
grieve all that needs to be grieved.
Instead, I spend-if time is a thing
that can be spent-minutes of days
trying to carefully touch as many
dimensions of loss as I can.
And I remember how to climb.
It has been four months since I
last climbed, and, now, having
closed the distance between my
three friends who were waiting at
a dirt pullout just up the highway,
I find myself tied to a rope that is
threaded to one of these friends.
I am thoroughly impressed by the
rock I am supposed to climb-its
spine curving gently over the
mound of its body, which is sitting,
maybe patiently, at the entrance to
the ocean beyond it.
Seen from the highway above,
it looked like dappled water, and
I was struck by a faint line of red
cascading down the middle of the
rock (also like water), as though a
hand had streaked a message (wet,
red) right down the rock's ribcage.
This was before we took a narrow
path through waist-high green
and golden shiver grass (also, silver
hairgrass!), and wild oat, and Chi-

28 THE WEEKLY / OUTDOOR RETAILER SUMMER 2020

Endria
Richardson

I AM THOROUGHLY IMPRESSED BY THE ROCK
I AM SUPPOSED TO CLIMB-ITS SPINE CURVING
GENTLY OVER THE MOUND OF ITS BODY,
WHICH IS SITTING, MAYBE PATIENTLY, AT THE
ENTRANCE TO THE OCEAN BEYOND IT.

nook brome, and a polite amount
of poison oak; before we descended
the wide, paved, silver slope toward
the beach; before we clambered
over the copper and bronze skullsize boulders; before we passed the
smooth, black sand and blue stones.
Here and now (which is maybe just
distance compressed), the rock is
not like water. Now, I touch it, and I
remember touch. What a forgotten,
beautiful sensation-the collapsing
of space between my fingertips and
the compressed Earth, this grave
blue and red stone that rakes across
the white sky.
3.
HALFWAY UP THE LAST CLIMB OF

the day, I try to find my way around
a bulge in the rock. Hanging from
my harness are quickdraws a friend
has loaned me. A recent friend has

built the anchor, carefully looping and knotting nylon cord that
dangles a dozen or so feet above
my head. The rope I am attached
to was brought by yet another new
friend. My left foot presses into
such a tiny moment of friction-it's
tiny, but it's enough!-and I search
for chalk marks (friends who have
come before me) on the blank face,
not seeing anything. And, yet, I feel
light. I find, hidden within a crack,
a nice place to wrap my fingers. I
lean back, so slightly, to shake out
first one arm and then the other. I
let the rope hold me, gently. It is a
line of relief, tangible, and I can rest,
almost completely-which is to say
that I can measure precisely the distance of care. In this moment, I am
held aloft, against the sky, against
the Earth, by so many friends, by
handfuls of care.

CO U R T E SY L R B LO U N T

1.
I AM LEARNING TO MEASURE



The Weekly - July 30, 2020

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