Mountain gleanings

San Diego has beautiful camping parks along the Pacific Ocean, mountains and desert, all within a two hour drive from home.  Our camping season is from fall to spring because we choose to avoid the summer heat and/or crowds.  Most of our camping is in the Anza-Borrego Desert, but by April, we’re ready to enjoy the refreshing coolness, plants and wildlife of our local mountains.  We love mountains and have had them nearby, even when camping in the desert.

DSC_0006 Whale Mountain

Our favorite mountain camping park is William Heise County Park, 4,200 feet above sea level in a pine and oak forest in the Cuyamaca Mountains near Julian, California.  We camp in the non-hookup area where we can get close to nature and enjoy hearing the wind rustle through the trees.

DSC_0089 Wm Heise County Park

Last week we delighted in the raucous chatter and the flittering about of the Acorn woodpeckers courting high up the Single-leaf Pinyon Pine.

DSC_0120 Woodpeckers in pine tree

This area abounds in wildlife and flowers.

DSC_0007 Mule deer foraging

Mule deer foraging and prancing.

DSC_0169 Prancing deer

DSC_0192 Steller's jay

Steller’s jay (above)

DSC_0134 Courting Rio Grande Turkey

Courting Rio Grande Tom turkey

DSC_0029 Western redbud

Western redbud, Cercis occidentalis

DSC_0043 Palmer Lilac

Palmer Lilac, Ceanothus palmeri

For 17 years poet, artist and author Marshal South and his family lived in their self built adobe abode, “Yaquitepec,” on a remote Anza-Borrego mountain top and explained, “It has brought us to the state of consciousness where each day is a separate jewel to be lived and enjoyed for itself… It has given us a deep kinship and understanding with all nature, the abiding sense of oneness of all things, a clearer perception of the glory of the Great Spirit, as much in the jeweled eye of the desert lizard as in the majesty of the desert dawn.”1

DSC_0126 Lizard, Anza-Borrego

Cynthia Rich, author of Desert Years: Undreaming the American Dream, wrote in her “Dharma Gleanings” blog:  “I remember one Spring day on the desert six or seven years ago, before I was reading Thich Nhat Hanh or meditating. I was walking in a wash near our cabin, the desert was in full bloom, a light wind was moving the clouds across the face of Whale Mountain, and it came to me more clearly than I had ever seen it that this was literally Paradise—not the exaggeration that we usually mean when we say that. I have never believed in Paradise or been attracted by the idea of it, but I’ve never forgotten this moment and what it told me: Your Paradise is here. Its abundance, its joys, its perfection (to use a rigid word for the flowing rightness of things), belong not only to this Spring morning but to every day if you can see them. This Spring morning is only the messenger for a larger reality, and only you stand in its way.2

DSC_0003 Whale Mountain & clouds

Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, taught the Pebble Meditation exercise of visualizing and feeling while breathing in and out.  Below is a concise summary from the “mindfulkids” website.

Breathing in, I see myself as a flower.  Breathing out, I feel fresh.

Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain.  Breathing out, I feel solid.

Breathing in, I see myself as still, clear water.  Breathing out, I reflect things as they really are.

Breathing in, I see myself as space.  Breathing out, I feel free.

DSC_0450 Four pebbles

The Pebble Meditation*

 *This is a YouTube video.

1.  Marshal South and the Ghost Mountain Chronicles: An Experiment in Primitive Living, Edited and with a Foreword by Diana Lindsay and Introduction by Rider and Lucile South, Sunbelt Publications, San Diego, CA., 2005, page 220.

2. “Dharma Gleanings” blog, Cynthia Rich, August 11, 2006 (Later)

About Bill D.

Bill is a retired RN who has enjoyed working as a docent in a well-known historic house museum, and now is a proud volunteer in San Diego's newest state-of-the-art hospital, Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center. He enjoys reading, writing, and meditating, especially about mindfulness as discussed by Zen master, spiritual leader, and author Thich Nhat Hanh. (Photo credit: Jokie Tolentino)
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