Saturday, May 14, 2011

More Than Just a Hike

A couple of Sundays ago was Mothers Day, and my sweet wife and the mother of our children had a plan for her Special Day.  She wanted to go on a hike. 

Quite different from what Dad will want on his day - which will likely consist of a medium rare steak he cooks himself, and a .... sit.  As opposed to a hike.  But enough about me.

We loaded up the car with a simple picnic lunch, and took off for this place, above Glendale.  The best part of the day was that Older Daughter had decided to board a plane and fly 1,700 miles home from college, just for Mothers Day.  For me, this was a wonderful illustration of the magnetic power of a mother's love. 

And so, the whole family was together again.  It doesn't happen as much these days, with Older Daughter off at college, and Younger Daughter quite independent and very busy as a high school junior.  And so, there was a simple sense of celebration in the collection together of us all, if only for a weekend.  Studies and time with high school and college friends was put on hold.  We piled in the car and headed out, if only for a couple of hours.  It was time for Mom.

More than two years ago I wrote here about the Station Fire, and the overwhelming nature of this epic wildfire.  For our hike, my wife had chosen a park and trail that was right in the middle of this fire.  We really did not know what to expect, two years following this massive and utterly devastating event.  I have read that the measured temperature in the middle of an open wildfire can exceed 900 degrees Celsius, or 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit.  Complete annihilation of the landscape.  One would expect to find black the predominant color, with patches of green showing through, finally, two years after the fire. 

What we found was stunning.  But the primary color of black only visible in small patched, with the overwhelming portion of the landscape now a brilliant green, spotted with flowers of an amazing array of colors.  What was once black everywhere has now become, in time and the healing of nature, a showing of resurrected color.   Blackened chaparral stumps and younger oaks yielding to the healing of time.

We hiked up and around the canyon, we enjoyed the vistas through the spring clouds hugging the San Gabriel range, marveling in the variety of flowers and plants, and laughing, just at the chance to be together.

Many years ago, John Muir wrote a poem that captured well our little afternoon in the hillsides and clouds, among the new hope of Spring.

John Muir

Let children walk with nature,
let them see the beautiful blendings.
communions of death and life,
their joyous inseparable unity,
as taught in woods and meadows,
plains and mountains and streams.
And they will learn that death is stingless.
And as beautiful as life.

Our faith teaches us that death is stingless, but two years ago it looked as if death might have the last word in the foothills.  And on this weekend, we learned the opposite.  Regeneration, new life, bright color, these are the things that have prevailed in a once charred and barren land.

May it be so for our lives.
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