Oh, I seem to recall last year not knowing how to find my way back in, having been away from the blog for a while, and there may be something similar here, but I think I just have to drop my bags, yell "I'm home!" and start forcing people to look through my photos. You can skip the photos if you want. It may well be that it will take too long to post them anyway. I wasn't having much success with photos before I went away.
Away... away, with most of my family, to Barcelona, for a 5-day fiesta to celebrate my nephew, Glenn's wedding to Claire. We lunched and dined, we strolled and sight-saw(?)... saw sights! We stopped for cafe con leche or tapas. We sang (well, some of us were the audience!). We clapped. We deepened friendships with a wide circle of family, in-laws, friends of younger and older generations. The cameraderie was wonderful, the togetherness was magic, and the wedding was special indeed. It was a treat to witness everyone's enjoyment of it all, to see people's eyes open to this beautiful city. The whole experience was a blessing for me and for my family.
2 days back home with my Dad, enough time to tidy up my luggage, re-pack and head off again, this time to San Francisco and its environs - the Bay Area, as they say. I was met by the most wonderful caring and kind friend (and her mother), and given such a welcome! They gave me days to just sit on the porch - and I did, watching hummingbirds (Oh, that ruby-throated bird!)and dragonflies. In the early mornings, I would spot deer and a visiting trio of young foxes through my bedroom window. One evening, we went to investigate a racket being created by the jays in the oaks outside, only to find they were trying to evict an intruder from "their" tree. - A magnificent great horned owl (we surmised from the sillhouette and the sheer size of the creature) swooped from branch to branch, but just sat there until HE was good and ready to depart.
Once I was rested, excursions began - down the coast, over to Palo Alto, into Berkeley to see the Hearst museum of anthropology and the museum of art; out for breakfast at little places called Tina's or Millie's, where french toast comes coated in sugar and strawberries. - This to eat with sausages! Culture shock! (But I coped!).
I took off on BART, made my way to the Museum of Asian Art - spent the better part of a day there. There is so much to see. Bus to Golden Gate park to visit the AIDS memorial garden, the Japanese tea garden (jasmine tea and rice crackers), the sculptures around the de Young art gallery. Simply riding the bus through that city - down the hills, I loved looking at the houses - no, not the big fancy ones. The houses on ordinary streets, where ordinary people live. I loved the farmers' markets, yarn shops, the post-office. I loved people's gardens, tiny patches crammed with colour and scent. I didn't spend enough time there. I'll have to go back.
Then there was Yosemite. Oh.... I hired a car, and took off. Of course I took wrong turns. Of course I ended up on roads I wasn't meant to take. I discovered highway 160 - the Delta ("What delta?"I wondered... turns out to be the Sacramento River delta). Levees. I was tickled. We don't have levees. I took my Chevy to the Levee! Drove along a road built up above the river. Water on each side, and an atmosphere of peace and tranquility. I'd set off early in the day, so I had plenty of time for this little detour. A coffee-stop at a boating resort allowed me to check with my map. Oh yes, I'd gone astray, but what a gem I found in that road.
This is what I realise I love about travelling somewhere new. When it's new, everything is interesting, so getting lost isn't a problem. I still get to see something I haven't seen before. But I did want to find Yosemite, so I sorted out my route, adjusted my heading, (so to speak), and made my way to Sonora for the night. I didn't stay in the park, as I'd left it to the last minute to try to organise accommodation (the downside of being spontaneous), but I liked the towns I stayed in. And I liked the travelling to them, and from them. When I saw there was a town called Mariposa, I just knew I had to go there, and go there I did. So, I spent a couple of days exploring Yosemite. I'm not a hiker, though. I'm a stroller. I was in sandals with no backs. I took the easy trails. The ones being followed by people with children in pushchairs. What's wonderful is that there's still so much to see. I did go up to Glacier point and Bridalveil falls. I felt a sense of bereavement when I got to Yosemite falls to find there was no water. Dry, dry, dry. It seemed wrong, somehow. I loved that there were huge numbers of people there, and that yet, it was so big, you could be alone, you could have quiet.
On my last afternoon, just before 5, I found my way to Mariposa Grove, and the last tour of the day was about to set off through the redwoods. Wow. Those noble trees. I can't say much about them, but that hour driving through there was really something special for me. There are a lot of lessons for me in the Redwoods. They need to survive fire to grow, to be healthy. When they have a strong enough root system and sap-building layer, they can even survive the loss of their heartwood.
Going 'home' to my hosts again, I felt I'd been away for weeks. I'd been somewhere wild and new, along mountain roads higher than anything in Ireland. I don't want to start sounding preachy (if anyone is actually reading this far), but I want to tell you if you are American, you are a trustee of something very special in Yosemite. You all have a responsibility to look after it for the rest of us. That's what I became aware of when I was there. Responsibility.
My trip didn't end there, but I think this post has to end here! It's too long, too long. I haven't managed to get a photo in. They all need to be resized. I'm going to put something about the final few days - the SoulCollage facilitators conference near Santa Cruz on my SoulFragments blog. It was magic. It was community and connection. It was a time of confirmation. I'm not crazy to be taking off on these excursions. This is the right thing to be doing now in my life. I couldn't have chosen a better place to go. Thank you to California for opening her arms and welcoming me. Now I'm home!
---------------------------------------------------And while I was gone:
Dana and Liz of Poetry Thursday announced that they are shutting up shop at the end of the month. I'll be so sorry to see it go. There are moves afoot to do something else, so the poetry community will still be active, but I just want to say here how much I have appreciated the initiative that these two amazing women took and the results of it have been absolutely astounding to me. It was a lifeline for me - when I thought I wasn't writing anything at all, to find that, actually, I'd done a little something for Poetry Thursday. And the range of poets that it attracted was something else! Everybody welcome, everybody finding their niche! Magic. I wish every blessing on whatever they take on in the future, because they deserve it. Namaste.And also while I was gone:Tinker
nominated me for a Blogger Reflection award. I'm highly honoured. It means something I've been doing here has "inspired her with my creative spirit through my blogging". If you frequent Tinker's blog, you know what creative spirit really looks like. She is a wonderful soul, and it's really made me feel special to think she'd nominate me. .... And then Kara at Spiritdoll
did me the honour of nominating me for my SoulFragments
blog, and again, there's someone whose spirit and creativity inspire me all the time, so I am really delighted with that. Now, i get the pleasant task of nominating five bloggers who inspire me. Oh. I've been away, I haven't been reading, and it will take me a month to catch up, so maybe everybody has already been nominated, but I would like to mention some of the bloggers who have meant so much to me over the journey since I began my blog with the Artist's Way group in January 2006, so I will be nominating Fran at Sacred Ordinary
. Wenda at Daring to Write
, Kathryn at A Mindful Life
(who is expecting her first baby in 4 days time!). Then there's Theresa Williams
and (oooh, this is hard. I love and am inspired by ALL my blog-friends), but I don't think a lot of the people who come here also go visit THIS
blogging Mommy. Go see. They are wonderful.
The task, as explained by Kara, is for each of them to"nominate 5 bloggers that are an encouragement, a source of love,impact me in some way and who has provided a Godly example. In otherwords, five cherished bloggers whom, when you reflect upon them, you are filled with a sense of pride and joy"
I'm sorry, it's been so long since I've done this I don't know how to post the relevant badge here. There's one on Kara's blog HERE
. Hope you can use it.
Labels: California, family, SoulCollage, travel, USA, Yosemite