View From The Office Windows
by Brent Gill
SPRINGVILLE IN THE FOOTHILLS
February 27, 2006
I am so fortunate that I get to telecommute, working from my home. Life at the very edge of the Sierra Nevada Foothills, is very special. It is a pleasure to share it with you.
Yesterday I prepared an envelope for mailing, and as it is at least 200 yards or more to the mailbox, and after all it was Sunday, and the California 500 was on TV, so I just didn’t get down there.
In an effort to get myself all prepared for the day, about 6:45 AM I called to my old dog, Max (a big neutered male Boxer) and headed down to the mailbox before it gets to raining today.
As I stepped out the back door, I was immediately hit with a stiff breeze coming right off the mountains to the east of me, which told me that I was none-too-early on my trip into the exciting wilds of nature. The low-pressure area which often surrounds a rain or storm cell was obviously off to the west, and at the rate the breeze was kicking up, it was not very many miles away.
So Max and I wasted no time hoofing it off down the hill, in order to get back in the house before it started raining. It is overcast and about 50 degrees outside this morning, so the temperature is just cool enough to make a brisk walk a pleasant experience.
Two things struck me this morning, on my early trip to the mailbox. One was rather funny, and the second was a delightful moment.
First, a young man who often helps me around the place, had sprayed the sides of my driveway to keep the native grasses from encroaching under the blacktop, and eventually breaking it up entirely. The power of Nature in reclaiming areas in which She has been shoved aside for our convenience, is always surprising. The power of a small grass plant to take root under the asphalt, and as it grows and gets bigger, to actually break it up, always surprises me. So, to prevent this, we spray weed killer along the sides of the road to keep the ever-growing grasses at bay.
I was looking at the strip of sprayed border he had created a few days ago, and suddenly discovered tracks of his 4-wheeler going off from the driveway in a curving sweep. I knew he had gone out in the back pasture that day, but apparently he had really poured the gas to the 4-wheeler, and “peeled out” as he left the road, for it was a nearly bare track, as if the tires had spun hard, taking it down to nearly bare ground.
But … there was still grass in the track though bright yellow, and not bare dirt as I first thought. Also, it was too narrow, for he would have fish-tailed a little, widening it out.
Then it struck me … he had rolled from the driveway, through the recently sprayed border, and onto unsprayed grass, but his tires had picked up enough of the liquid that, as it ran over the unsprayed grass, it deposited the chemical in the neatest little tire-track. Surprisingly, it is probably ten feet long, in a curving arc. As it got out to where the tires were nearly wiped free of the chemical, the yellow begins to thin out. But that portion near the road, and for the first eight feet or so, are just as yellow as the border along the road. I had to laugh at the results of something I know he did not have any intention of doing. But, the evidence is quite clear.
On the way back up the hill, the breeze was continuing. Looking off to the west, I wasted no time getting to the house, for several light streaks of rain shower could be seen out to the southwest. As I reached the top of the hill, I was suddenly struck by the most wonderful, fresh smell. I faced into the breeze from the east, and breathed deeply of this most delicious air.
It was blowing west, coming from a few miles east, and directly out of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. I am at the1,000 foot level, but within five miles the peak of Black Mountain tops out at 5,000 feet. Though this air was cool, it wasn’t especially cold as it sometimes is when it comes straight off the snow. Instead it carried with it that fresh, sparkling smell of a delightfully clean forest, but was fairly warm. The warmer air surely enhanced the amount of “mountain smell” that was carried to me.
I tipped my head back, and breathed in deeply several times, until I almost got dizzy from the excessive amount of oxygen. What a brief, but special gift.