Things can fit together in surprising ways. I haven’t worn a watch for ages and it’s years since I’ve been mushroom hunting. Recently those two actions crossed paths when I wore my new Jord wooden watch on a hike in San Diego. (The watch was a gift from Jord but all opinions and this story are my own.)

I was taken by the wooden watch from the moment I opened the box. The zebra wood band is lightweight and warm yet it’s very durable. It was tailored to fit and within a few attempts, I could fasten the unique clasp easily by myself. The band is continuous so it won’t fall off which would make me sad.

Into the woods on a self guided trail in San Diego

Caring for a wooden watch

A wooden watch like this takes care but it’s easy to manage with the vial of oil and rubbing cloth that arrive with it. I also appreciate that it’s a mechanical watch – taking 15-20 winds to start and then regular movement keeps it running. While a thoroughly up-to-date design, it reflects the long tradition of watchmaking. I won’t need expensive and environmentally questionable batteries. The Zebrawood Jord explains is, “From equatorial western Africa, (where) Zebrawood is usually logged by hand with a hundred men or more on mountain slopes.” The IUCN Red List which studied where it grows, reports that “Logging is currently not heavy and populations appear to be stable…*” I avoid plastic when I can and care about sustainability issues. Using this wood supports local workers who harvest trees spaced far apart instead of clearing tropical forests and destroying habitat.

Wild growth mushroom and Jord Zebra wood watch

Wild growth mushroom and Jord Zebra wood watch

The wooden watch is large on my narrow wrist but the soft gold face (Champagne is the official color) and warm zebrawood band work together without feeling like they shout, “Look at what I’m wearing!” That works for this practical-minded traveler.

Jord watch in action on a hike in San Diego

I never joined the Fitbit or Apple watch trend and have grown accustomed to looking at my phone to check the time. Will I become time-obsessed? That’s not going to happen. I’d forgotten was how easy checking the time is when you wear a watch. It’s a micro-move, a subtle twist of the wrist and there you have it. With my phone, I need a series of moves, to push buttons and then narrow my eyes to read the numbers. None of that with my Jord wooden watch.

Urban trails are odd things. One time I found an antique piggy bank that had probably been tossed from the neighborhood above. On this hike, in a California forest carpeted with fall leaves, I found an abandoned rake. Did someone take the President up on his fantasy fire prevention? The hoarse scream of hawks filters into my consciousness yet the sound of being close to the 52 Freeway never ceases. This trail is a wild place incompatible with the noise, so soon it’s forgotten.

Raking the forest floor

Doing my bit for fire management.

This urban tail follows Rose Canyon. There’s a parking lot nearby and oak trees, wildflowers, some blackberry bushes in summer, but you have to keep an eye out for poison oak. Usually, trails here are dry, even in the deepest canyons that fold across San Diego County.  It rained twice in the last two weeks, so the ground was moist and cushy in shadowy places. That’s perfect for new mushroom blooms and we searched for Candy Caps without luck. (Read my earlier piece about what we were looking for and the precautions necessary when you hunt for mushrooms.)  There were however some gigantic mushrooms near creek beds.

Self guided trail sign in San Diego

I needed to keep an eye on the time and checked my wooden watch as we didn’t want to miss the sunset from the beach a few miles away. In winter, the sun arcs over the ocean on our part of the coast. In summer it arcs north so you see it set behind hills and buildings.

We would have to leave soon to join in the sunset ritual and watch for a green flash. It comes on the clearest of nights when the horizon is free from clouds. You never know how the marine layers will affect the horizon. Sometimes it seems like the sun is divided by black lines. Other times there’s the faintest flick of glowing green right before the sun disappears completely. It’s a trick of the reflected light.

La Jolla Pier Sunset in San Diego

No Green Flash! La Jolla Pier Sunset in San Diego

Shadows were getting long as I headed back towards the car when I peered up at a tall, scrappy tree. There was something white in a wooden divot about six feet up. It was too high to be a mushroom and I walked closer to investigate.

Time stopped when I saw that the white mass was a snake! A quick intake of breath and I stepped back. A dozen questions roared into my mind then sanity returned as I kept my eyes on the white twisting form. Head raised, it didn’t move, there was no flicker of a tongue. The tail was wrapped around an equally white object – a carved piece of wood. They were one – molded together by an unseen hand.

Who put that there?!

Tree snake! Artwork placed in a tree on the trail.

Tree snake! Artwork placed in a tree on the trail.

My hiking buddy motioned for me to look further up the tree. Hanging from a naked branch was a wire forming the word, “Hello” above the snake. Such an odd and timely encounter! Time will tell what we’ll encounter the next time we hike Rose Canyon.

Thank you to Jord for the beautiful watch which made a great model on my hike. As usual all opinions and this story are my own.

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What will you find in the woods with a Jord wooden watch