Along the trail to Mt. Woodson
It's mid-October, mid-Fall, and I'm in mid-Trail, on the middle slopes below Mt. Woodson, with temperatures in the high 60s, nearly exactly in the mid-range of their yearly swing.
All is still. Nothing moves. No animals move about, the plants are frozen in time. A promised storm, bringing the first rain of Fall, has vanished into nothingness as it hit San Diego County, leaving the plants and animals waiting. They are waiting still for the first rain to break the long summer drought, now six months since the last rains of spring.
The heat of Summer is gone, at least for today. But subtle changes have happened that foretell the end of Summer forever, at least for this year. The Sun no longer sears the landscape from high above. It has moved to a lower, gentler angle in the sky. It makes a much more brief appearance each day, allowing the night to dominate more and more.
The world of Nature is in suspense. Everything seems to be holding their breath, anticipating the changes to come. Light rain, hard rain, the crash of lightning and thunder, cold temperatures challenging survival, all are coming within a few months.
The acorns and yucca seeds lie on the ground, waiting for the rain to start their journey. The first rain will cause a rebirth of Nature, green shoots growing everywhere, developing the blooms to come. There will be plenty of food for plant eaters, making plenty of plant eaters for the meat eaters.
But for now, that explosion is still to come. All are waiting for that first rain.
The plants, with their eternal patience, stand still and wait. The dried flowers of everlasting, and the dried black seedheads of laurel sumac, are both symbols of the unchanging landscape, as well as silent sentinels watching for the changes to come. Both look just as they have for months, frozen in time, waiting.
Even the trail is frozen in time. Footprints on the trail get changed only by the overlay of more footprints, leaving the trail unchanged, a crazy-quilt of footprints. Even the dust of the trail stays unchanged, imperceptibly jostled by each new footprint. The trail itself waits for the changes to come. The dust will turn to mud, rain will sculpt rivulets in the trail, the footprints will become firmer, deeper, more well-defined.
But for now, all is still. All is the same. Nothing moves.
Everything is waiting, waiting for the changes that will surely come.
Inspired by Jane Strong's Seasons of the San Gabriels
Go to Blue Sky Ecological Reserve
Copyright © 1999-2000 by Tom Chester.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to me at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Last update: 17 October 1999.