It is a beautiful and sunny day. Maybe not the best day to drive to the desert but I do not care. I wanted to see the Orange Sea of California Poppies. Heading from LA north east towards Lancaster my cravings for beauty are already fulfilled. California has many National Forests, although not all of them actually have a lot of trees. But left and right the mountain range of the Angeles National Forest rose up and behind each turn my eyes would discover new beauty. If my father sat next to me now, he would anxiously signal me to capture the whole with his digital video camera that he uses to replace his own memories.
I genuinely enjoy the ride. Americas wilderness and vastness taught me the pleasure of driving. Hardly can I recall that to me driving a car used to be harrowing. Cruising through the mountains in an almost dangerous speed I just can imagine that only flying might be more pleasant. The mountains are upholstered with green brush and the birds of prey make their rounds. For a moment I get a little scared, because I realize there is nobody else in this empty stretch of land but I shake it off, not to spoil the pure experience.
As I drive further east the tone changes to yellow. Rare get the green bushes, just dry grass is covering the land now. For me the desert is just as picturesque. A slight disappointment creeps in, I will be too late. It is already end of May and I won't see any orange wonders, the poppies will be gone. I will have to wait a whole year to get another chance. In this day and age it seems almost surreal to have to wait for something. It gets hotter and hotter and I have to turn the air-conditioning on. I try to avoid it, but it is just so hot. I keep driving, maybe I can have at least a nice hike. I cannot fill myself with all the beauty of this land, I never get enough. The landscape is rough and simple, but on the other hand complete and rich with little details that wait to be discovered.
A smile jumps on my face, like to a child joy just suddenly happened to me, I saw a poppy. Another one and a few more. Only a negligible number between all the grass, but I saw them. Mister Garmin tells me I arrived but I cannot spot the state reserve yet. I keep driving, now hopeful that there will be a miraculous change of scenery, that behind the next turn an orange-green stretch will open up and absorb me. But the scenery remains, yellow, dry, grassy mountains and hills, as far as I can see. I approach the sign of the reserve, here I am. Should the few poppies that flanked the roads be all my blessing for today? I park the car. A few other visitors are around. It is windy. it is so windy as I never experienced it. I hardly can open the door. I only have a light jacket and wonder if I even should get out watching the tourists with their coats and hoodies almost completely covering their faces.
But I am surprised. the wind, although extremely strong, is so warm almost hot. I have to giggle, I feel lifted. The wind pushes me up the hiking trail. My legs just walk by themselves. I disturb the lizards's sun bathes as I climb up. Hushed, they flee into the holes that build the sideline of the trail. Sometimes they freeze and I get out one of my latest toys to take a picture. It is actually so windy, that at times I cannot even hold the camera still. I climb further and suddenly little objects seem to fly through the air. I wonder if I hallucinated, but again. Grasshoppers. Who would have expected grasshoppers to be around in the desert? I tiptoe the rest of the trail not to accidentally smash them. They bump into me during their flights and I feel bad for my sole being. I hope I left them all complete and without harm.
Although the other tourists complained that they did not see any wild flowers up here, I can spot many of them. Another surprise, there are also a lot of bees around. They might enjoy the warmth of the desert as much as I do. And of course there are poppies. No oceans of poppies but to me an impressible number, just enough for me to be content. In the yellow background the orange does not stick out very well, is more hidden and the small LCD screen of my camera, does not give me the feeling that I satisfactorily captured the moment, but I don't care. It is so pretty and warm, I still have to giggle.
What I love about the desert is the sound. It is so calm, just a slight hum of the wind and some insects that seem to reside here. Today the wind is more tumultuous, but there are no artificial sounds around. None! The desert is such a calm place, so wide, so beautiful and so rich.