A Breath-Taking View

Delta Winds cover 1999Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College


A Breath-Taking View

Katherine May DeLacy

I find spiritual sustenance in the natural scenery that fills my window and surrounds me on a daily basis. It's how I keep my sanity and gain my strength in this fast-paced world we live in today. Seasonal changes, which take place every moment of every day, can mirror our own emotional roller coaster. They can teach us to pay very close attention to these subtle changes, by allowing us to revel in their beauty and to learn from these mysterious minute messages. Take the scenery from my window in all of its magnificent glory as I write this.

I live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Calaveras County--Mokelumne Hill to be specific. A friend of mine once referred to our quaint community as the "Miami of the Sierras." Others have called it God's country, and some have even gone so far as to call it utopia. The dictionary describes utopia as an idealized place of perfection and on a physical plane I would most certainly have to agree. I believe these are all excellent descriptions. Mokelumne Hill is in what is referred to as a banana belt--a warmer temperature climate. It is at least five to ten degrees warmer than any of its surrounding areas within a five-mile radius, making it possible to grow lemons, grapefruits, oranges and avocados to name just a few. In the winter, we get an occasional foggy day but more than likely it is gorgeous and sunny here in this small haven when the rest of the world below us is layered in a thick blanket of fog. On these days, the beauty is breath-taking and serene.

Towards the west (back to my window), on a clear day, you literally can see forever. In the near horizon you can see Golden Gate Peak, and as its name implies, on a crystal clear day you can see the Golden Gate and Mt. Tamalpias from on top of this perch--provided you are willing to expend a little energy to get there. On the north-eastern horizon you can see Mokelumne Peak and to the west Bear Valley, both prominent and majestic with their peaks laden with snow. As if this weren't enough, the variation of light reflected upon their peaks at various times of the day can add an entirely different dimension to their wonder and beauty throughout the day. The mountains really do turn purple at sunset which brings out their surreal qualities on a continual basis.

This power and magic are a constant reminder for those of us willing to listen and observe that nature has bestowed upon its inhabitants a natural ability for adaptation. At sunrise the mornings bring on the brightest of pinks interspersed with the purples of the previous evening, transforming these very same mountains into a renewed freshness of magnificence.

Winter, with the darkest of moods, is displayed with its dark, windy, cloudy and rainy days evoking a sense of bleak despair. But on a second, closer examination, one may possibly attune to the color scale of the numerous shades of green available for the viewing. This alone can be astounding, I realized yesterday as I gazed at my surroundings. Greens from bright iridescent yellows to dull shades of gray with hints of reddish-brown subtly mixed in for our pleasure--one shade alone as vibrant and knowing as the next, intense, clear and crisp bathed in the afternoon thundershowers.

With awe I marvel at the narcissus and its heady aroma and notice the daffodils rising from their yearly slumber, excited that spring is close at hand: spring, bringing with it a renewal of growth, carefree yet mischievous, sunny, and warm with contentment. Excitement in a separate sense from winter's unpredictable moodiness. New growth, continued life and inspiration for us all to uncover and reveal ourselves. Now my palate is not only filled with hundreds of greens but is splattered with an incredible unending array of every color imaginable. The wild flowers alone as far as the eye can see can keep one entertained for endless hours with their amazing simplicity and willingness to grow just about anywhere.

Although I personally do not care for the high temperatures in summer, this season too must be praised. The early morning hours are my favorite. The cool summer breeze emanating from the night before brings with it a special aerodynamic playground for the red-tailed hawks and buzzards that check in on a daily basis--like clockwork. I live on the top of a hill that overlooks the Mokelumne River canyon and as they cruise past me at eye level, observing, scouting, playing, they often call out to me with what can be a shrill, often piercing cry bringing about a sense of awareness that nothing slips by them unnoticed and reminding me I am the one who is not paying attention. They leave me with the message that we are made powerful by our abilities to perceive and receive.

There is a particular hawk that seems to have taken on my well-being as its personal mission. He or she arrives daily at the same time each morning and calls out, circling above, and this same bird (at least I choose to think so) also returns in the evening at dusk to sign off for the day, promising to return the following morning. If I am not out or up at this time, the bird actually continues to circle, crying out louder until I make my appearance. At first I thought this to be a mere coincidence, but after becoming aware of its insistence I concluded he really was communicating with me. If I happen to get in my car and drive down the road, he will follow me, sending me on my way with assurance I will be not only missed but protected on my day's journey. Now tell me I am not blessed.

Well, it's dark outside my window now, and although I realize that a whole new portrait is developing behind night's veil, my curiosity to explore its mystery tonight is not quite as strong as my need for slumber. For tomorrow is another day and the quince and buckeye are ready to bloom. I hope you have enjoyed the view.