Monday, March 22, 2010

Take a hike!

Sunshine, and 50 clear sky degrees. Two good elements that contribute to a peaceful, gentle hike. Who says outdoor activity has to be grueling? That’s not for me. Feeling, breathing, seeing, hearing, and sensing all the beauty that’s been created. Ah, that’s what it’s all about. Welcome to Joshua Tree National Park.

Observing. Two climbers with serious equipment on top of a small mountain. I’m getting dizzy just looking up at them. One decides that it’s time to be “grounded”. I hold up my phone, and quickly put it in camera mode. I see him, there in the display, coming down. Fast. Maybe three seconds. I gently touch the “shoot” button. Ah, but not this time. The delay on my phone captures a beauty shot of steep rocks, but no human careening down a steep, rocky cliff!

Done with hike at this section of the park. Planned to move to another area, this time by a basin. Driving out, a ranger stops us. “Sorry, we’re in lockdown”, she said. “A helicopter is coming in. It’ll be a while.”

So, we parked the car. Sat there for a moment. What to do? We’ll let’s explore the area around the parking lot, since it will “be a while”. Luckily, there was plenty to see. Two brave daredevils at the top of a mountain of rocks, sans any equipment. I caught my breath every time they came close to the edge. In fact, looking at them made me dizzy too.

And, just behind another mountain, in a vast clearing, joshua trees as far as the eye could see; almost lined up like prickly soldiers. Snapped many photos with my trusty phone. Would have missed a lot of the beauty of the area if we had left when we intended to.

And did a helicopter arrive? Yes, indeed. Not sure what happened, but it appeared that a climber may have fallen down when up high on some rocks and injured himself. About 30 rescue people were there, most in bright yellow garb and screaming orange hats to carefully extract him and tenderly move him to the waiting helicopter. Wishing him well!

The "captivity" lasted over an hour. Though my peace of mind that I was seeking that day was jolted a bit, nevertheless, I did find much of what I was looking for that day. And surprises? Most certainly. The memories live on.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Precious ...and few.

Okay, you thought I was going to write about a movie I haven’t seen yet? Nope. Yesterday, I had a large piece of food lodged in my windpipe. And, I experienced the Heimlich maneuver for the very first (and last) time. Only one person, just ONE, has been told the complete, second-by-second story.

Today, as I sit here nursing soreness, headache and a dry cough, I feel joy even while the memory of the panic and terror I experienced is still fresh in my mind. I am thankful that my lunch date knew what to do. I am thankful for the restaurant staff that quickly came to my aid, and their patience. I am thankful for the profound coolness that prevailed over the scene.

And, I’m rather surprised by my own behavior. Once my ordeal was over, standing there in bewilderment and relief, I started chuckling. Quietly and hoarsely at first, then louder. I’m certain my booming voice resounded and echoed against the smooth glass walls. In harmony with the laughter, I spewed out “I’m sorry” several times. I genuinely felt bad for the restaurant, worried that I might have lost customers for them. Don’t think that happened, fortunately.

Today is a day of celebration for me. Yes, thoughts of "if I had died, who would come to my funeral”, and “I haven’t finished all I want to accomplish here" raced through my mind. Done with that. I know there's so much to look forward to. And forward it shall be. Back to “the usual” I go, changed somewhat. Now even more fine-tuned to appreciating everything around me, those around me are likely to witness a frequent, slight upturning of one side of my mouth into a grateful, goofy grin.

As the song by Climax says “precious and few are the moments….”

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Green Season

I love driving around Southern California this time of year. It’s Spring, full-force. Seeing many photos from friends on Facebook showing umpteen inches of snow makes me appreciate the climate I live in even more. Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t like snow, actually, I do like snow, for many reasons:

• Making snow angels is just plain fun, even if the back of my pants gets soaked.
• Simply driving in snow can be challenging but enjoyable, especially after being stunned when your car does a “180” and thankfully not hitting anything.
• Having heavy snow fly in a straight on frenzy into the windshield while windshield wipers flap; there’s an intense rhythm to it. A pulsing tune on the radio adds to the effect.
• Snow is pretty when it’s fresh; when it forms a hard top coat, it even glistens. Truly a visual delight.
• Watching snow coming down while sitting by a roaring fireplace can be mesmerizing. Great stress reliever too.
• The company you work for may declare a “snow day”. Ah, permission to stay home and pretend you’re working! As a former East Coaster, yes, I have experienced this!

While many of my friends are living in a snowy winter wonderland, I’m busy basking in a world of green. Driving around many areas near my home, distant green rolling hills surround me and make me suck in my breath, stirred by the feeling of peacefulness that stirs within. Yeah, it sounds corny, but it’s true. And all the while, I’m still in full control of a moving vehicle!

Now is the time of the year when suburban lawns are most vibrant, ranging from a darker “grass green”, to the more lemon-lime brightness of younger blades. As I stroll my neighborhood, I delight in the patchwork of living colors. How wonderful that there are so many hues of greens to enjoy!

Enjoy your seasons, whether they are intensely different each quarter, or just evolve slightly through the year. Soak in the colors, bask in the sun’s intensity, and be dazzled by the wonders, big and small. Pay attention to the details and the one-of-a-kind sightings. Go ahead; create a name for those short periods of time. And welcome to my "Green Season”.