Alex Recalls Vernal California

These days hiking, for Alex, was an activity that was more a chore than the joy it used to be or should still be. Given his medical challenges, Alex knew he needed the exercise for its physical benefit as well as the mental and spiritual boost it provided. Newly relocated to eastern Virginia, he was finding limited opportunities for exploration or, at the least, meaningful exploration. The nearest woods remained spare and bare in late winter, far from the appealing exoduses previously available to him in the Bay Area. There, despite the proximity to a teeming metropolis, hiking opportunities were myriad and, for Alex, largely unexplored.

Sometimes, when he was out in the cold woods, dim and dank, he longed for the remembered warmth, even in late winter, of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. There the winter was akin to one long April: voluminous rainfall soaking the parched grounds long desiccated by the scorching sun of the long dry season. During the wet winter months, this area reminded Alex of photographs he had seen of Ireland, with its broad expanses of rolling greensward soothing the eye as well as the spirit. In due time, spring would commence on those Elysian Fields and Alex would still be stuck in this outback, without recourse to the wonders of the California spring season.

For wonders they were, with the rolling hills covered with wildflowers almost too numerous to name. Primarily there were blue lupines and silver bush lupines, spread over vast swathes of the rolling countryside both with lovely violet blossoms. Interspersed with these were the golden cream-colored blossoms of the California poppy along with numerous varieties of Indian paintbrush as well as other tiny-blossomed annuals. These combined in a colorful palette that was as aesthetically gratifying as it was spiritually inspiring.

Traipsing over these trails in his memory, Alex thought of other destinations he would likely not see in the near future. He thought of the tops of various rises where extended vistas would satisfy his needs for photographic subject matter. There was a particular spot where Alex had stood one especially warm afternoon waiting for the residual fog to burn off an exceptionally stirring vista. Alex knew this particular spot well, as he had been hiking in this area many times.

Alex stood high above the rocky coast of Point Bonita. To the north, he could see the outer edges of Bird Island and beyond the golden brown expanse of Rodeo Beach surrounded by gold and green hills. Wisps of fog clung persistently to the ocean dashed rocks and, as he watched, Alex could see the bits of fog forming and re-forming, partially obscuring the frame of his intended subject.

Finally, the fog had cleared and Alex was able to make the photograph he envisioned. The ravaged coastline had always appealed to Alex’s sense of nature at its most primal. He doubted he would find such stirring vistas in his current environs but that would remain to be seen. Perhaps the spring would breathe new life into his attitude as well as his newly adopted surroundings. Perhaps the vernal awakening of the seemingly old and dead forest would inspire Alex anew. Spring has a way of recharging mind and body with new and unexpected stimuli. Patience and forbearance would be the watchwords.

© Stephen Alexander 2008

Alex Recalls Vernal California

stephen hewitt

Lanexa, United States

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Anothe ambulation w/ Alex

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