Scott and I don’t always travel to the mountains, or desert, or ocean to experience nature. Sometimes, we find nature at the fabulous parks Los Angeles has to offer. Yesterday was just such a day. We visited the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino, a paradise for nature lovers, art lovers, food lovers, and book lovers. As these are four out of our five favorite things (music being the only thing missing here), how could we not have a splendid day?
We stop first by a grandmother oak tree just outside the desert garden. As I place my hands on the ancient giant, I am first aware of me touching her—her coarse bark, her cool temperature. But as I stand there, waiting, I realize my fingers are feeling something different: they feel Tree touching me. I become aware of each ripple of my fingerprint, and the temperature of my hand begins to warm, to synchronize with Tree’s temperature.
I feel a pulsing, almost electrical in its feel, flowing from Tree to me, and then back again. In a moment’s time, I feel Tree’s stories: how wild this place was when she was but a sapling. How important her job is now, offering shade to the tender succulents growing beneath—and in some cases, among—her massive branches. She is ancient. She has seen much. She has much more to see before she dies and her branches become compost, offering life to a new generation.
We move on through the desert garden, and are enchanted to find we are not too late to experience the cactus in bloom. There are blossoms of every color:
Some of the cacti are immense, their crowns touching the sky.
Some are quite small, their blossoms the size of Scott’s fingertip.
We approach a showy tower of jewels, which thrums with life. Bees explore virtually every inch of the fragrant pink blossoms, gathering nectar to take back to their hive.
Around a turn in the path, we find a yellow petals carpeting the ground like yellow snow.
This tree, too, thrums with bee activity. How busy the bees are on this fabulous day, where the temperatures hover in the mid-seventies and the sun dapples the desert floor beneath the cactus and palms. Yet, as they drift from blossom to blossom, there doesn’t seem to be any sense of urgency among them. They just do what they do, moving among the yellow blossoms. I take a deep breath, then exhale slowly. I close my eyes. I try to think like a bee, focusing on nothing but the blossom in front of me. I block out all thoughts of bills to pay, errands to run, blogs to write. I am the bee, for just those few precious moments. How I wish I could maintain this sense of calm, of peace!
For humans, living in the moment is a difficult thing to do. Our lives too often run at a frantic pace, as we dash from here to there, answering calls and texts on our smart phones as we go, always in touch, always reaching out and touching others—electronically. These bees know nothing of our technologically driven lives. They know only the gathering of nectar, the protection of the hive and their queen. They just are. They are a perfect example of the verb “to be” in its purest form.
Oh, to be more like the bee!
(The Huntington is to vast a place to write about in one blog. More to come in a day or two!)
Smoky is an ardent outdoorswoman with a deep reverence for nature. She lives in California with her husband, daughter, and a menagerie of animals, both domestic and wild, in a ramshackle cottage in the woods. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time hiking in the mountains, camping in the Sierras, splashing in tidepools, and resisting the urge to speak in haiku.