A normal Sunday drive, finally
On the Bright Side
April 24, 2021
Back in the day, my folks loved to take us kids for a drive on Sunday afternoons, after church, and a nice Sunday dinner. I guess I inherited that tendency for I love to take drives, Sundays or otherwise, any time I can, anywhere I am.
I did such a thing on Easter Sunday this year, after treating myself to a nice breakfast out. Taking a drive seemed a no-brainer. The day was beautifully sunny and warm, and as it turned out, my timing was great in a way I wasn't expecting.
I was hoping I might see some wildflowers as I made my way into Cowboy Country (taking the Caliente exit off of the 58) even though I knew they wouldn't be as profuse as some years, what with the drought we're in and all. I did see some flowers on my voyage – vivid spots of yellow, a handful of poppies all told, some fiddlenecks, an occasional purple/pink tree – but mostly I noticed and was rewarded with the color green.
My intent was to drive to Twin Oaks and back, a favorite little drive of mine any time of the year. It was worth every minute, especially between Caliente and Twin Oaks. Everything was green, startling green, all shades of green. Trees were budding out, the grass was green, weeds were flourishing, the creek was flowing and many folks had stopped along the way to get their feet wet. I don't know when I've ever seen so much green in April around here, or so many people along that stretch of road.
If there is one thing I miss living in Tehachapi, it's the green of springs and summers. I love it in more normal years when the Golden Hills turn green in January and February, before the wildflowers come out. This year we were pretty much denied even that little natural treat (unless you made the trip to Bakersfield on exactly the right day).
My timing turned out to be just right on Caliente Creek Road that day. It did my heart good to see all those budding trees and green hills. I always feel closer to God, closer to a higher power, more spiritual when I'm in nature, and this particular Easter afternoon in the rolling green hills between Caliente and Twin Oaks was both spectacular and uplifting.
It was so good in fact, that I decided not to turn back just yet. I went on through the back country to Lake Isabella, where the lake was not as full as it has ever been but not as low as it's been before either, and then on to Kernville, where I stopped at the park and took a little walk to a bench in the sun.
The park was busy on this gorgeous day, and quite a few people were wading in the river. The water must have been pretty cold, however, as evidenced by shrieks and screams whenever someone splashed someone else (or in one ear-piecing case, where a bucket of water was thrown at a group of young girls). A couple of kayakers paddled by, people walked their dogs, some folks were simply sitting and enjoying it all like I was.
It all felt a bit...well...normal. I noticed people kept their distance from others, as did I, but other than knowing that social distancing was actually going on, it felt like it might have felt a couple of summers ago when we weren't trying to beat back a Coronavirus. The word "normal" kept coming to mind and it made me happy. It also gave me hope for a brighter future, even as soon as this summer.
Taking that green drive on that Sunday afternoon turned out to be a great gift, and a great reminder that even though times are tough, nature continues to grace us with its life-affirming changes and renewals. We as people don't have to stop doing things we love to do just because we want to do our part in the pandemic. Taking a drive, Sunday or some other day, alone or with someone in your bubble, can be renewing and reviving in itself.
© Marilda Mel White. Mel White, local photographer/writer and owner of the Treasure Trove, has been taking afternoon drives all her life, and has been looking on the bright side for various publications since 1996. She welcomes your comments at email@example.com.