I'm realizing it could be something of an obsession of mine to analyze the pros and cons of living in Los Angeles. It seems to come up a lot, unintentionally. It is on my mind and has been for a long time, years probably. You see, there is a lot of traffic, a lot of hustle bustle, and a whole lot of time spent in cars in this sprawling city. There are days when you need to run a few errands and four hours later you have not returned. You have to drive a ways to get out of it, but when you do, the rewards are sweet.
This video was taken at the Coronado Butterfly Preserve in Santa Barbara County. We drove up there last Friday, with no expectations other than a little retreat and some time in nature together. What we found there astonished us. I am not exaggerating, if you are in Southern California, please visit this special place. I will not go into how much this video or these photos do not serve the abundant beauty that we discovered that day. The most idyllic place I have ever been, dare I say.
The fact that we did not have our zoom lens put a pit in my stomach - and it is still there. But, alas, there is always next year, because this, will definitely become a family tradition for us. Can you see in the photo above what looks to be a giant mass of dead leaves in the tree? It's not leaves. It is a cluster of monarch butterflies! They overwinter in a grove of Eucalyptus trees just east of bluffs that overlook the ocean.
There is a short, jolly man that stands at the base of the trees and asks if you have any questions about the butterflies. His passion for this place is evidenced by the giant monarch butterflies emblazoned on his t-shirt. He volunteers his time out in this wonderland - what a nice gift to the community. But I think that works both ways; it must be such a gift to see the astonished faces time and time again as they enter the grove, looking heavenward. Gasps. Silence. Reverence.
We really did not need to see anymore. I mean that was it. That was worth the 3 hours we spent in holiday traffic to get up there. Hands down. But we kept exploring.
When I snapped the photo above, a girl around the age of six was walking by on the trail. In a soft sweet voice she said, "Aw...she looks so cute sitting in the tall grasses . . . and the short ones too."
We met lots of nice people on the trail that day. Strangers that smile are kindred spirits, I think - not really strangers at all. Surrounded by so much beauty, breathing it in, I felt recharged and all of the traffic irritation soon melted away. In those few hours, with my family, in this most ideal setting, surrounded by kind folks and abundant beauty - I truly felt at home.