The key principle underlying the power of Nature to inspire is how easily Nature surprises. And in those surprises, our minds are suddenly removed from dwelling on the daily mundane, and instead propelled into contemplating the wonder of life.
The surprise can be seeing a flash of bright blue as a screaming Scrub Jay flies through the shrubbery, an emerging wild cucumber vine pushing up through moist clods of earth, or a coyote sitting quietly in a vacant lot, looking right at you.
Today, for us, it was spying a beautiful stand of old-growth mission manzanita chaparral (aka, Xylococcus bicolor) in a wild canyon surrounded by rural living, bisected by the signs of human activity. But there it was, remaining pristine, rich with native life forms, a remarkable island of hope.
We had been on a Sunday journey to find an accessible deposit of diorite, a granite-like, plutonic igneous rock that we needed to complete our backyard, graphic version of the rock chart, a useful teaching tool used to help teach the intrigues of geology.
Don’t get us wrong, the diorite expedition was a wonderful adventure. Jumping over fences in Valley Center in northern San Diego County looking for rocks, a place not known for welcoming the curious, provided a lot of memorable moments.”Can I help you, eh?””Just looking for a good piece of diorite.””?”But when we turned down a random side road to explore the local wilds, suddenly seeing the red branches of ancient Xylococcus shrubs reach for the sky was, well, a stunning surprise.
And the biodiversity, from the yellowing leaves of California’s own native citrus, bushrue (Cneoridium dumosum), to the wild lichens thriving on the Xylococcus dead wood, all sang together in the most inspiring, delicate ways.
Let it happen to you, like next Sunday.