Sunday, June 26, 2011

Take Time To Daydream

Summer in S. California is always greeted by the purple clouds of jacaranda blossoms. Once the flowers fall, they form a purple carpet beneath the tree that is nearly as lovely as the tree itself.

 Summer has finally settled into San Diego. The purple clad jacaranda trees are a sure sign, as are the thousands of hot pink bougainvilleas that grace about every other property as well as a few canyons where discarded cuttings have managed to root and grow. The summer flowers are now in full bloom and while the spring grasses are brown and dying, the agapanthas and day lilies and desert primrose and geraniums are valiantly trying to camouflage last season's remains.

As I was out and around the city today, taking in its new look, a hint of wanderlust invaded my heart. I so want to go camping. I want to inhale the scent of pine trees, catch a waft of campground woodsmoke, and inhale that dusty aroma the earth has as it cools down from a day filled with summer sun. Yet I know I won't go. Not alone. I'm not ready yet to travel without the man who loved me so unconditionally for 53 years. I'm not strong enough yet.

So I daydream. How grateful I am that for all of my life, I've been able to bring forth images of places I've been and things I've seen. I don't know if that's normal, but once I store an image in in my brain, it never leaves. I've always been like that. Some have questioned if  I have a photographic memory. I don't know. I only know the pictures in my mind are always there and I can pull them up in the twinkling of an eye.

The California redwods are the tallest trees on earth and nearly the oldest, many reaching more than 760 feet high and spanning more than 2,000 years.

So it is that as wanderlust takes over, I take to my trusty recliner, intent on daydreaming. I already know where I'm going. It has always been my family's favorite destination, ever since the kids were 3 and 5. I'm off to the California redwoods and the many camping spots we  haunted so many years past. We began in a used tent, then a used tent trailer, then finally a small used trailer. We never had the funds to travel in champagne style. None of us cared. Truth be told, it was the tenting I loved the most, for it forced us to live outside, eat outside, and play outside. And all under the striking beauty of the coast redwoods-where winds whisper of coolness and footsteps are drowned upon the deep sponge of earth.

When morning chores were finished, we'd find a trail and follow it. This is the land of the ever-living sequoia sempervirens, the tallest trees on earth, and every step taken along their forest aisles only enhances our appetite for more. The light is muted; the undergrowth luxuriant. For thousands of years, cloud-sweeping branches have filtered both fog and sun, turning the grove into either a mysterious "other world" or sprinkling it with pinholes of light that momentarily outline a sword-fern or halo the bracken.

The earth beneath these auburn giants is a painter's palette of greens gone mad. Moss filigrees downed trees, maiden-hair fern decorates decaying stumps. Trillium and oxalis carpet forest duff while the vine-like poison oak, in a seeming attempt to atone for its toxicity, spirals numberless redwood trunks--and in the process, graces unimaginable heights.

Few wild things populate this climax forest and the stillness here seems eerily unreal. It is an intense quiet broken only by the groan of branch rubbing against branch or the crack of a stepped-on-twig or the intermittent scolding of the forest policeman, the bright-eyed Steller's Jay. This is God's own cathedral--far nobler and loftier than any ever built with human hands; and the silence here is such that even man speaks in whispers. For these are ancient sentinels, connecting you by a hand touch to the sunrise of all the centuries they have known.

This is a forest with a mood uniquely its own. Of peace. And strength. Of things content with their yesterdays and secure in the knowledge that for them, tomorrow is still a man's lifetime away. As a race, these ionic columns have survived the dinosaurs, the great Ice Age, and the forces that thrust the mighty Rockies skyward. Many standing today were young when Christ walked the earth--and still they will outlive us by a thousand years.

But be warned. This is a land that will steal your vanity and expose your soul. These ponderous colonnade's appear to hide the powers of the universe and the answers to infinity. Their ambiance is powerful, invading the very marrow of our bones. And whether we wish it or not, their spell will be cast. These trees will beckon and we will find ourselves returning again and again. It is a call triggered at odd moments. And sometimes, half a world away. It may begin with a scent. Or a sound. Or the way a lazy breeze brushes the back of my neck.

And suddenly I am there--locked deep within the redwood aura.  Reveling in the awesome beauty of its dense, pure groves. Touching a patriarch. Inhaling pungent air. Craning my neck, trying to glimpse that special spot where treetops meld with heaven. Understanding a bit more of patience. And tenacity. The flashback may only consume a moment. The spell lasts a lifetime. There is no escape. Not even in my dreams.

The coast redwood campgrounds are set outside of the old-growth forests. Finding a trail into the land of the patriarchs is easy. The camping areas are cool and shaded, many set beneath second and third growth redwoods--too young to have reached gargantuan size and height.

"One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your awesome acts." Psalm 145: 4,5

Copyright 2011 by Sandra L Keith, All rights reserved

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