Ok, there are no crows or wheat fields in sight so you probably took one look at that photo and wondered what the hell I’m talking about… but those damn oaks are reeling in their own turbulent harmony as are the crows in the Van Gogh painting I’m referring to, right? Besides, it sounds a whole lot better than “Dead Grass with Bike”. Yesterday I was sandwiched in a similarly turbulent fashion between two competing thunderstorms listening to their not too distant rumblings while riding along a ridge line in the Santa Ysabel preserve near Julian. It’s always a little disconcerting to be in such open country when electrical storms are in the vicinity but I really wanted to explore this area.
The grass was swirling around my feet on the updrafts produced by the storm, as were the turkey vultures that were soaring relatively close above my head (within 20 feet at times). Reinforcing the dynamism of the moment was the realization that I was out riding a portable lightning rod/bike just ahead of the impending storm, the center of some whirling universe (or lightning bolt bull’s-eye) when I really didn’t want to be.
Eventually the rain began to fall with cold, fat drops that cratered the talcum powder layer of earth that dusts the landscape this time of year, each of the sporadic initial drops raising a small puff upon impact (something I’ve never seen before). I guess there’s a reason we call these sorts of conditions “moondust” here in California. The craters multiplied, the thunder drew nearer and the target on my back grew larger, so I turned around and headed back the way I had come saving my exploration for another day.
As the rain began in earnest on the descent back to the trailhead and the safety of my car a large coyote bounded across the field headed for cover. To put it in lunar landing terms – that’s a few quick pedal strokes for a man on a bike, quite a few giant leaps for coyote-kind. We gave each other the nod as our heads bobbed in mutual mammalian agreement while rushing toward our respective havens before the storm began in earnest. From the safety of my car I watched the lightning bolts dance across the hillsides. I imagine the coyote did the same from his sanctuary.
“There is no blue without yellow and without orange” – Vincent Van Gogh