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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Writing Pad Nature Walk

By Amy Robinson

Sunday, April 19th was a perfect day to mix my loves of hiking, writing, and eating at the Writing Pad Nature Walk class. At 10 a.m., a merry band of ten Writing Pad students gathered at Temescal Canyon Gateway Park in Pacific Palisades, an oasis of nature in our bustling city.

Marilyn, ever the gourmet food pusher, handed out delicious, freshly baked carrot/coconut muffins whipped up by Adel Aschenbrener, Writing Pad’s culinary genius. The muffins were a good energy boost for the two mile round trip hike in front of us. As the sun climbed, so did we. I told the group to keep all of their senses open; to pay attention to the sights, sounds, smells and touches of nature around us. I noticed the sweet scent of cedar rising from the trees, and I felt the sun’s heat sear my shoulders. Several fat lizards popped out into our path, offering themselves as fodder for future journal entries.

Pausing for a breath about ¾ of a mile in, our little party of explorers could see the Long Beach Peninsula through a crack between hills. It was a clear and gorgeous day, but it was the hottest April 19th in the past 35 years. We were all red-faced and sweaty.

Just when our quads and glutes started to burn, we reached our destination: the tiny waterfall and creek bed in the mountainside. Ready for a rest, we all perched on some rocks and wrote again. The water burbled, the shade dappled and small creek flies tried to take refuge up my nose. It was a very peaceful scene of 10 writers bent over journals, letting their imaginations meander over hill and dale of the Santa Monica mountain range.

After we completed our hike, we spread out picnic blankets under sweet shade in a quiet corner of the lower park. We feasted on Adel’s amazing, flavorful quinoa and kale salad and a scrumptious assortment of local and organic cheeses from The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills (including creamy goat cheese from a Paso Robles farm packed in its own bamboo cheese skirt (held by Marilyn below) and a nutty, mild Petit Basque from France).

We sipped on some Moroccan Vanilla iced tea and wrapped up the class with Adel’s killer brownies and one last free-write. One of my writing prompts was to invent a natural phenomena, give it a name, and describe how it occurs. Although Writing Pad confidentiality rules do not allow me to reveal the hilarious and fantastic stories that our class participants wrote, I will tell you that I wrote about a special wind that magically removed cellulite (picture a group of naked women standing on the beach, waiting for a storm to smooth thighs and bellies). Marilyn wrote about a penis rainstorm in the finance department of the large media corporation that she works at.

Everyone left the class rested from a healthy jaunt in nature and a brief respite from the noises and stresses of city life. I can’t wait for our next adventure hike (and more of Adel’s brownies)!

For other fun and productive short classes check out Writing Pad's One Night Stands/One Day Classes. The food is always yummy, and you'll get a lot of writing done.

Writing Prompt: If you controlled the weather, what would you do? Start by making a list of 10 natural phenomena (rain, wind, hail, etc.). Then add your own special touch to your favorite 2 phenomena--invent something special that happens when it rains, hails, etc. (ex. a special wind that removes cellulite, a rainstorm of penises). Give it a your natural phenomena a name, and describe how it occurs. Write for 10 minutes!

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