We drove home from Mammoth a day early and I planned to spend the next day running errands that are hard to do on weekends when I have my husband in tow. He can manage the grocery store pretty well since we use the cart like a walker to help with his balance. The aisles are wide enough for me to help steer the cart as I fill it up with our necessities for the week. It’s the other stores that are more difficult – the heavy cart and large, bulky items at Costco or the crowded aisles of Bed Bath & Beyond. I planned to take advantage of having the caregiver come on my vacation day so I could scoot in and out of scores quickly and unencumbered.
But when I woke, I thought about the “super bloom” at the Poppy Reserve in the Antelope Valley. It was way past sunset when we reached Lancaster on our way home from Mammoth and too dark to drive out to the reserve. The super bloom was past its peak and was probably nearing the tail end. Two weeks before, my neighbor Nancy had visited and declared it glorious and in full bloom. I made calculations in my mind – it would take at least an hour to drive out there and another hour to come back. I had at least two hours of errands to do around town. But I had the whole day ahead of me, and how long would the bloom last anyway?
So I got in the car with my coffee and breakfast and drove to the reserve, listening to podcasts and relishing the solitude of the drive. It was windy and cloudy when I arrived and the poppies were semi-closed. Still, I hiked for about an hour in the southwest quadrant of the park and once I got away from the crowds clustered near the visitor center, it was wonderful to be out in the open, in the dry wind and quiet of the outdoors. I passed a patch of goldfields and poppies and had the trail to myself. In the distance, the hills were carpeted with yellow and orange. Near the end of the hike, I came upon a slope of poppies in full bloom awash in orange. I felt buoyant and awestruck as I snapped photos.
I ran some of my errands on the way home in Lancaster and more once I got back to LA. I was home by five, my car laden with purchases. But I felt lighthearted and happy.
Beauty won over duty.