Hoards of small, yellow flower plateaus grew beside the trail as we ventured up in the 90-degree heat this Monday afternoon. From the hilltops, we got a stunning view of the valley. I was surprised by how many trees there were, giving that the area does not strike me as green so much as hot and dry. Perhaps it’s the reflected light from the pale brown soil as opposed to the rich, red clay that I’m used to that gives it its slightly arid character. We continued around the hill crest before starting a zig-zag descent that only mildly pacified the hill’s precipitous, downward slant.
We came home and washed off our grimy bodies in hot water. I came outside, picked a few kumquats from the backyard, and then climbed up into the fig tree. I laid down, cocooned in the tree’s broad, wing-like leaves, and looked up into the winding branches. I hadn’t climbed the tree before, and it may not be the best for climbing considering that several branches have already snapped and its body is awkward and gangly. But I enjoyed the refuge, up and away from activity. Tools buzzed loudly in the background but watching the leaves ruffle in the breeze, I could imagine a silence.
Though I had in mind that time to simply sit and ponder would yield some treasurable insight about my direction this summer, I had a hard enough time stopping the torrent of thoughts and sounds in my brain. So I let myself stick in the noisy unknowing and focus on nothing but the leaves and the branches and the wind.
Later I ventured inside to join in the family’s work. Mama Megan, Grace, and I cooked in the kitchen, and we listened to The Little Prince soundtrack while I cut up leftover, sautéed onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms.
After dinner and fellowship, and once we finished the documentary Father of Lights, about miraculous transformation and Holy Spirit healings, I made my way outside. The dark sky hung above me like a painting and the shadows of the garden webbed around me. I could almost see the black forms of Jesus’ disciples moving in the garden. An oak’s ethereal branches loomed over me like a protective shroud, and, in the distant North, the silhouette of the San Gabriel mountains hemmed me in as if God was whispering, “You are safe.”