As part of Old Post Resurrection Hop, I’m re-posting this blog I wrote in November, 2011.
Yesterday afternoon, instead of taking Fergie and Jake on our usual three-mile hike up the dirt road that winds up to the Top of The World (yup, it’s called that), I decided on the “other” hill, the one paralleling Laguna Canyon Road. Haven’t been there in a while. With all the rain we’ve had this fall, the meadow on the left of the steep tarred road glows with a spring-like green. Opposite, a single house halfway up the hill, perches above the canyon.
The end of the road flattens to the left into a spot that looks like a helicopter landing pad, but it’s actually the remains of a foundation of a house that burned down at least twenty years earlier. A white slat-backed bench and two Adirondack chairs arranged just so sit under a tree complete with rope swing. There’s history here, evidenced by the date “1947″ followed by the name “Don” carved into a low cement wall. The property is owned by someone who, unable to build on it because of access problems, gave it to his dad who maintains it as a kind of park for those who discover it, or so I hear. I’m grateful for this generosity of spirit.
I usually let the dogs charge around while I admire the view, one of Catalina Island (on a clear day), along with a view of Laguna’s main beach. From this angle and elevation, the breaking waves look like white brushstrokes. The sunsets are magnificent. A short distance behind the property the path leading up to Bermuda Hills Drive on the right is visible, free of its thick summer growth (and lurking snakes), revealing a discarded bucket, a couple of beer bottles and part of a large ceramic pot, no doubt tossed from the decks of the million dollar homes above. The goats have been hard at work.
I’ve taken this path a number of times before. Today, I’m going left. There is no path, save for a faint indentation in the scrub. Sure, there’s a length of PVC pipe and a dead houseplant ahead, it’s not like it hasn’t been traversed before. But for me it’s a different path. And today, what I’m after is that feeling I used to get as a kid in Africa, be it in the Zambian bush, the flatlands of Zimbabwe, or in the hills of Barberton, South Africa, that feeling of charting new territory, of discovery. Fergie and Jake trot ahead, stopping only to sniff delicately at coyote droppings, dessicated and bleached white by the sun.
We head up the side of the hill steep enough to threaten a tumble down to the bench and Adirondack chairs. I pass what looks like a mini acacia, Africa’s umbrella thorn tree. Trying not to slip as I angle across the incline, I find myself thinking about the time I was nine, when me and my dad used to go looking for gold in the hills around Barberton those two years he worked in the mines and made bricks part-time. The Barberton area contains some of the oldest sedimentary rock formations in the world, site of a gold rush in the 1880s. We never did find find any gold on our forays into the rolling hills. Instead, on my own, I discovered an abandoned mine shaft filled with vines and a couple of parrots swooping in and out. I wrote a story about the experience when I first came to America as a twenty-three-year old at a local junior College and was rewarded with a C+ for archaic language, too many flashbacks, and a lack of focus.
Today, I’m focused on thinking about the past and those days I find myself visiting more and more, wishing my parents were still around to fill in those blanks I never realized were missing. ‘t often visit in my mind. It’s just too hard. My parents are no longer around to fill in those blanks about ask those questions I never bothered to ask before, the family history barely noted by my mom, but fervently pursued by my dad. I didn’t find anything like that today, not even close, unless you count the acacia look-alike. Still, I enjoyed an invigorating hike until I came to a gully, newly formed by the looks of it with Jake and Fergie perched on the edge looking back at me. There’s a way around but it’s getting dark. Another time. I turn back, satisfied.
This is a Blog Hop!