Landscapes of the heart
The landscape of Los Angeles is very different from that of my childhood home of Eugene, Oregon. There, dark, damp trails were shadowed by tall evergreens; here, many dusty trails are lined by dry brush barely knee high.
Yesterday my husband and I took our son on a short hike at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. The scenery varied from that of the butte I hiked numerous times in youth, but the feeling was very much the same.
Come back here! parents yell.
(This time, I am the parent.)
You’re getting too far ahead! I can’t see around curves!
(It’s true. How many times did my mom shout these admonitions with four of us underfoot?)
Do you see that bird over there? If you’re really still, maybe we’ll get a chance to look at it closer. Oh, but you have to be quiet, too!
(Little hands on big shoulders; no longer are the little hands mine.)
Look at this flower! If you move too fast, you miss these little sights.
(My mother-eyes see all the risks, but also the adventure present and past.)
I was little when I hiked with my mom in Oregon. I’ve grown much bigger now than I was then, and I’m now the one shouting cautionary words.
All the same, I feel my littleness when I hike these days. I feel my mom’s admonitions and love as my son kicks up dust ahead of me. I bask in the goodness of imagining my son someday being the parent shouting warnings on family hikes.
The physical landscapes of Eugene and Los Angeles offer many marvels, to be sure. And yet I can’t help but feel, then same as now same as then, it’s the landscapes of the heart that make these adventures eternal.