Monday, November 23, 2009

Extraordinary Experiences

We are all thrilling to the PBS series on the National Parks these days. I am really grateful for them, since I have never visited a single one of these parks. Still, there is nothing to compare with experiencing a fantastically beautiful place or event in Nature for oneself. The series has reminded me of a post I did almost two years ago. And the other night we were told there would be a meteor shower at about 3: or 4: in the morning. I did get out of bed, hoping to see it, but I saw nothing. My daughter, Rita, says she saw a few of the shooting stars, but that it was not spectacular. Nevertheless, it again reminded me of my old post. I decided that I would re-post it today.

In January 2008 I called this post "Awesome Events".

"Awe" is not a particularly popular concept except in teen vocabulary of a little while ago. For that reason, it is appropriate to be used to express the nearly unexpressable. (Is that a word?) I have been blessed with several truly awesome experiences during my lifetime. There are, of course, the human experiences involving love and childbirth. But I am thinking now of Nature's beauty and power.

Most outstanding of my experiences surely must be the meteor shower I observed from the back deck of my home one frigid night. The only thing that could have improved on it would have been a companion to share the experience. Sharing with someone always makes it better. I was quite alone. Never having seen a meteor before, much less a shower of them, I had no idea what to expect. I kept watching the skies, wondering from what direction it would come. From the corner of my eye I detected a streak of light so I turned in that direction, waiting for another. Another came - but from a different direction. Soon there were several appearing from many directions. At that point, I deserted my post on the front steps in favor of the back deck, where I could put a couple of lawn chairs together and lean back with my feet up and stare into the dark sky. I was alone, but was soon gasping and crying out in amazement, as stars came shooting in every direction, covering the heavens with glorious light. It went on for more than an hour. I was bundled up for the weather, but was in danger of becoming a human popsicle in the zero degree temperature, but I could not abandon the scene so long as it continued. I went around for days afterwards, unable to stop smiling.
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Then there was the event of the butterflies. I love butterflies, and had observed the migration of the monarchs several times in Late September or early October, from the Cape May coast where they rest before their long flight across the Delaware Bay. I had always been thrilled by the sight. But one year, about a week after the migration at Cape May Point, I decided to take a ride up to East Point Lighthouse in Heislerville, at the mouth of the Maurice River. I had never been to East Point. I found at the end of the ride that one takes a dirt road to a small parking area, frequented mostly by fishermen. The lighthouse itself cannot be seen from the parking site because it is surrounded by fir trees and shrubs. Several butterflies of various kinds were flitting around, here and there. I crossed the small bridge and headed for the break in the greenery. As I stepped through to the clearing in which the lighthouse stands, I was suddenly in the midst of a cloud of butterflies! There were hundreds of monarchs, but also other species - checkerspots and cabbages, American ladies, sulphurs - I don't know what-all. They filled the air, brushing against me as I walked, covered the grass and the trees and bushes. I kept turning 'round and 'round, trying to take in every one of the flying flowers.

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Interestingly enough, at least three of my most awesome experiences all took place in California. It is a truly amazing part of the world.

The first was my first visit to Point Lobos. My words are totally inadequate. Any time I attempt to describe the area my head is filled with the words of the prelude to the poem, Evangeline. - "This is the forest primeval - the murmering pines and the hemlocks, bearded with moss and in garments green.....While loud from its rocky caverns the deep voiced neighboring ocean speaks...." I believe the poem was actually written there, even though it describes another place. How could I improve on that? Thank you, Mr. Longfellow.

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Next must be the redwoods. Again, I find that words elude me. I do not believe there are words to do them justice. Many attempts have been made to describe them by people far more talented than I. Words like "breath-taking" and "humbling". It really doesn't work. Walking in a redwood forest must be experienced to be appreciated. I've tried to do it through photography. Photos can be impressive, and can certainly re-create for me the feelings I had while there, but they cannot bring it to the observer who has not experienced it for himself.


This photo is not mine. It is from my daughter, Kathryn. I think it is very beautiful, and I hope that it gives the reader some sense of awe of the magnificent creations that these trees are.

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And finally there was my visit to the Point Sur Light Station.
M
aking the steep climb, winding around the rock to the lighthouse, three miles above, enjoying the beauty of the view over the Pacific and the wild flowers along the way, looking out over the ocean, as the migrating whales spouted and breached, was the last great adventure in Nature in which I have been able to participate. It was a challenging accomplishment for me and very satisfying to complete. It was a sight that I enjoyed all the more because I was very much aware that I would never be able to repeat it.

I'm afraid that this picture of the rock is a bit fuzzy. The camera lens was not the best. The
Light Station sits to your right at the top, a bit lower than the fog line. The other buildings include a visitors' center, housing photographs and other articles from the past. Of notable interest were photos of the sparrowhawk biplanes that used to patrol the waters - launched, mind you, from a slingshot sort of device.

You can also see, to the left at the bottom of the rock, the start of the path we took for the climb. Please do click on the picture to enlarge it.

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Just one more awesome experience. This one took place thousands of feet in the air. I love flying. My first flight over the Rockies was on a magnificently clear day. I spent the entire flight with my nose pressed against the window of the plane, like a six year old. Now that was breath-taking!


As I re-read this post, it does bring all of those experiences back to me. But once again I realize that words - at least my words - just don't do the job adequately. When we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I know how much I have to be thankful for. Beyond my husband and family and many wonderful friends, I have been allowed these, and many other experiences, far beyond what so many on this earth have had, and have been spared first-hand knowledge of war or famine or other of their great tragedies. Thank you, God.


11 comments:

Singing Bear said...

What beautiful experiences, Bobbie. Can't say I've ever come close to anything like them. Thank you for sharing them with us.

kenju said...

I missed this one before, I think, so I am glad to see it now. The power and beauty of nature has reduced me to tears more than once, Bobbie. I haven't been to the National Parks either; I need to watch that series.

Sylvia K said...

Beautiful, wonderful memories, Bobbie! Thank you for sharing these "awesome" moments with us! I, too, treasure the memories that I have and they are just one of the many things that I have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Have a beautiful, awesome day and a lovely Thanksgiving!

Sylvia

Lily Hydrangea said...

Bobbie, thanks for sharing your memories. they sound like truly AWEsome experiences. I'd love to see the Redwoods some day & that climb to the light house sounds beautiful!

me ann my camera said...

Thid has been a wonderful read. It makes want to go outdoors to find something interesting to photograph today. I think I will go for a walk in the woods that I have been wanting to do for a while now.Thank you for the beautiful sharing. It is inspirational to read of your experiences.
Ann

Kay said...

What a fabulous post, Bobbie! I've always wanted to see a meteor shower but it was always a cloudy night for not as great as they thought it would be. I felt like I could share in the joy and wonder with you. Thank you.

Daryl said...

I kind of feel as if I was there .. to each of these special memories of yours.

Dianne said...

your descriptions are so vivid, so full of the moment

Paz said...

Lots of awesome things in your post. Awesome!

Paz

Deborah Godin said...

Just an awesome post, Bobbie! I loved all the memories, and your vivid descriptions!

Rambling Woods said...

This brought tears to my eyes because I could feel your excitement and awe... Life can be just so wonderful can't it...awesome in fact.. Happy Thanksgiving.. Michelle