Into the Ochre

Friday, Nov 15, 2019. 

Went for a run/hike in the Oakland hills today - exploring some new trails and old ochre paths. It’s amazing how quickly one can slip out of the bustle of Oakland and disappear into the woods. Less than five minutes from the highway, I was scrambling up a narrow trail through a densely wooded canyon with a cascading stream. 

This is the canyon where I took an ochre foraging workshop with Heidi Gustafson almost a year ago-setting me off on a journey to find and create local color from natural or found elements. The canyon was a source of ochre for the Ohlone people and later was a quarry. The water in the stream used to run orange, tinged with iron and ochre, until it was capped and filtered several years ago. I’m still amazed that one can pick up pieces of ochre off the ground. What looks like a dull, dark stone is composed of rich yellow, orange, red pigment. The practice of slowing down and looking deeply at the world around is mesmerizing. 

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