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Creek Running North
December 01, 2004
I've done a little shuffling through the deep dark recesses of the auxiliary hard drive the last couple days, and have pulled out a few photos to use as informal prompts for writing. Many of them are from the deserts of California, but a few, such as this one of California's state flower Eschscholzia californica in a bed of sprouting annual grasses and vetch and filaree, are from closer to home.
Not that this photo couldn't have been shot in the desert. There's a broad swath of land near Lancaster, in the Antelope Valley, land of skies of cerise and celadon, that is set aside as a reserve for the California poppy. I haven't yet visited. It's too close. By the time I get into the Antelope Valley, I've usually built up momentum sufficient to carry me almost to Utah. It's as if it's downhill all the way to Baker. I pass Afton Canyon almost before I can catch my breath.
But on the way back home from the deep desert, when I visit in late winter, I've driven past the reserve to take the long way home. I never find the reserve open, damn my stupid luck, but I've seen the bloom from miles off like wildfire. It spills out over the edges of the reserve, up into the forbidden slopes of Tejon Ranch, out toward Gorman and Interstate Five, glimmers of flame to tease the truckers' peripheral vision on the Grapevine.
And then a week goes by, or two, and petals fall. Grasses brown. Summer begins. At home, I kneel before a single poppy, so common here as to almost be considered weeds, and I wonder which I like more: lost in a million orange poppies, or just one.
Over the next ten days we'll see what the images dredge out of my desert-addicted brain. Good way to sublimate the longing until I can get there next month, I suppose. Or to make it worse. Or both.
Posted by Chris Clarke at December 1, 2004 08:27 PM
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For a moment, you were flirting with romanticizing Lancaster ... eeee!
Really, the view of the poppies from a distance is the authentic one ... if it weren't for that view, the rest of the refuge would be subdivided by now ...
so in a sense you've already seen it ...Posted by: Jarrett at December 1, 2004 11:03 PM
"Flirt," hell: the Joshua tree book will almost certainly include a full-on, shirts-off, tongue-kissing canoodle of the place.Posted by: Chris Clarke at December 1, 2004 11:08 PM
Canoodle, huh?Posted by: beth at December 2, 2004 01:58 PM
Thanks for the link to the reserve. I've been thinking that D. really, really needs to see the poppies in bloom at least once (deprived Midwestern guy that he is).Posted by: Rana at December 2, 2004 02:12 PM
If we time it properly, I could meet you two in Lancaster at Spudnuts.Posted by: Chris Clarke at December 2, 2004 02:24 PM