Posts Tagged ‘Lake Merrit’

Swinging into the New Year

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Hello 2011! We here at the Hartmann household are ready to take on another year. 2010 was particularly difficult, and we are delighted to see it end. We are looking forward to a clean slate and some new adventures (not to mention an end to the recession *fingers crossed*). While we have resolutions* and goals for the year, I thought it’d be appropriate to post about how we greeted the first morning of the New Year.

We woke up this morning, threw on our clothes and headed to Lake Merritt to take advantage of a break between rain showers. The weather was chilly and gray, but we bundled up and made the best of it. Our adventure started with a stop at Coffee with a Beat, a neighborhood cafe that was hopping at 9am. While I ordered coffee, I couldn’t help noticing how quintessentially “Oakland” the place was. As I waited for my coffee, I heard an East African dude with dreads speaking Amharic animatedly to his friends.  I chatted to the Scottish guy (clad in a Scottish national football jersey) about the milk and sugar station set up. I swapped New Year’s Eve tales with the barista who was sporting a Mad Hatter hat and greeting everyone who came in. The cafe was packed with all sorts of folks just reading the paper and enjoying the neighborhood. It was awesome. What I love most about Oakland is that this vignette is not a rare occurrence or something generally worth noting – it’s just how it is here. It’s not the perfect city by any stretch of the imagination, but it has so much life and character that it gets under your skin and you end up a devotee.

Fortified with coffee, we strolled down to the playground where we had the place pretty much to ourselves. It was great. A bit wet from the overnight rains, but otherwise fun all around. We grabbed a swing, climbed the climber and played in the sand. Outstanding.

Just swinging and watching the world go by…

Then, we headed over to the Lake to watch the ducks, geese, gulls and other birds relaxing and taking in the morning. (A little known fact is that Oakland’s Lake Merritt was the first wildlife refuge in the U.S. back in 1870. Cool, huh?) There isn’t much more relaxing these days than watching the ducks swim around. It’s becoming one of our favorite pursuits.

Chilling and watching the ducks do their thing.

After watching the ducks swim for a while, we headed over to an area where they do birding programs. Ryan particularly liked watching the ducks scramble for lettuce leaves and preen themselves. There are a lot of very cool ducks with beaks, feet and feathers of all colors. It’s fun to count all the different types, the males and females and their different markings. Every now and again we see a pelican, an egret or a heron, but this morning was all about the ducks.

Mystery duck. Any birders out there know what the heck this thing is? Seriously, I’ve never seen a duck like this. Ever. Maybe it’s a goose?

We call him Jim.

And so we greeted 2011 in Oakland! We headed home for a nap before the rains started up and settled into a fabulous Saturday. I hope that you rang in the New Year with excitement and joy! We wish you all the best for a safe, happy, healthy and joyous year ahead.


* Resolution details forthcoming.