As I write this from Sun Valley, the sun is beginning to peek over the horizon, cocks are crowing, the wind is rushing through the palm trees and behind me a fountain bubbles on my private porch. I’m in a still, calm and connected place after an amazing experience last night.
We left 29 Palms and drove through Joshua Tree Nat’l Park yesterday, this time just the two of us and
our cameras. It was a very spiritual experience – the quiet, the blooming cacti and Joshua Trees and tiny wildflowers so close to the ground in tiny, tiny bits of color strewn across the desert floor. We drove slowly, watching the terrain and flora change (which we would not have noticed if it weren’t for our most excellent guide the day before. Kelly pointed out when the altitude changed and how the corresponding flora changed with it. We parked at paved pullouts and took photos. The last time, I walked out into the desert, stepping carefully to avoid the wildflowers, Kelly told us there are upwards of 100,000 seeds per square foot of desert in Joshua Tree – seeds adapted to the harsh climate, little bits of life bundled up with optimism, waiting for the perfect conditions to burst forth and get their moment in the sun.
I felt connected to the land in a way I haven’t felt since I was in the Colorado Rockies as a teenager. I said hello to the plants, carefully avoiding both the wildflowers and the cacti barbs. I juggled my sun umbrella with my iPhone and maneuvered around the cacti to frame the perfect shots.
I’ve been looking for that spiritual connection for years, and it snuck up on me in Joshua Tree. So when we arrived at our next AirBnB, a hippie/artist pad on 5 acres in a tiny community a long way outside Palm Springs, I was primed. We settled into our lovely room with attached bath (king-sized bed – Woot!) and our host Mikey pointed out the sky bed – a platform built on top of a one-story, one-room building with a king-sized bed and lawn chair. Since all the structures in around here are 1-story, it gives you a 360degree view of 2 mountain ranges and the valley between them.
I went into the shared living space and companionably shared a bowl with our hosts as it was the proper thing to do. They asked about my writing and I told them about Runaway Rembrandt , my novel-in-progress, and Mikey told me a story about how he met a biker dude when he lived in Oregon years ago who owned a Rembrandt etching – Rembrandt’s self portrait, in fact. As they got drunk together, the biker decided that Mikey looks like Rembrandt, and took our host back to his place for a look. (I can see the resemblance, actually. He even has the gray fly-away hair). The biker commenced to invite Mikey to a party where he was (he said modestly) the guest of honor of sorts. The biker bought the whole bar for the party and liquor and other assorted and plentiful libations abounded. The Rembrandt etching was hung over the bar. After everyone was very happy, the biker would take Mikey around and say, “Doesn’t this dude look like Rembrandt?” and the party guest would inevideably say, “Fuck, yeah! Look at that!” Evidently the biker dude thought this was big fun because Mikey was invited to three of these parties before he moved away.
Just at the end of this remarkable story, the BF came in pulled me away to watch the sunset from the skybed platform. The sun was setting behind the mountains in the west, which was turning the mountains in the east wonderful sunset colors. It was lightly overcast so clouds were also turning colors. The wind blew, rustling the palm trees and sweeping through our souls, sweeping away bits of flotsam and jetsam from our lives. We turned, looking first one direction, then another, then another, watching the earth, mountains and sky change colors.
“I feel like I’m in a painting,” the BF said, turning again, and I instantly felt it to, the great hand of Nature, painting, changing swirling colors around us the different elevations of the mountains each with their unique colors, being able to tell the altitude of the airplanes flying overhead by the matching the color of their exhaust to the color of the clouds, their vertical trajectories crossing the horizontal swaths of the clouds. We turned and turned, the colors changing, the wind moving the clouds sweeping out our souls, feeling cleansed, feeling light, feeing grounded, feeling blessed, feeling connected feeling loved.
Feeling grateful that I have someone to share this amzing experience with. After the sun went down and the colors faded to a million shades of gray, we went back to our bed, and lay still, touching, each carrying those amazing feelings, holding them tenderly, connecting to each other, feeling the flow back and forth between us.
This morning I feel calm and connected and thrilled to be writing freely. I am finding myself.
Next stop: Flagstaff