Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Reunion and Renewal
West of the Salt Flats the "scenery" is gray, greenish gray, and dark greenish gray. Upon studying it, I've found the ecology of juniper and all the various species of sagebrush pretty intriguing, and the geologic story of the silver and gold mines might likewise be interesting. But there is nothing that really attracts us to the state of Nevada. The fragrance of all the shrubs in bloom is heady, but I still prefer the clean tang of sub-alpine forests and alpine meadows. Nevada's homogenous Great Basin view wore on us. We slept fast and made haste to leave Reno the next morning. Except for the 15 minutes Daddy spent stuck in the parking garage elevator with a wonderful bag lady who encouraged him that the elevator door stuck shut all the time and you just had to keep pushing the button, our leaving was uneventful...
So then, the "new" California was pretty interesting. First we had a joyful reunion with my parents at the cabin in the shady, forested Sierra Nevada mountains, where my father, as a boy, spent his summers. My parents arrived a day ahead of us (after a hiatus of 30 years or so) and by the time we got there my father had scouted the present-day setting and relocated his favorite childhood haunts. He was completely prepared to take us on an engaging tour, and we were completely engaged! The grandkids especially enjoyed seeing the "old-fashioned refrigerator" (a spring in the front yard), the place where Grandpa built his network of roads for his P.I.E. truck and tractor (in the back yard), the live-trapping grounds for squirrels (a lucrative business for boys back in "the old days"), and the "Leaning Rock" where cousins once built and defended makeshift lean-tos. The kids also went kind of crazy collecting sugar pine cones (the cones are huge, and we brought home a whole garbage bag full!), until our daughter tripped and accidentally touched one that was apparently very precious to a gray squirrel living in the mature pine above it. Boy!--it was a very tall, very straight tree, and he was a very quick scurrier! Friendly little bugger, though. It was quite a sight! ;~)
One of my favorite things about a forest is the ecology, too. Specifically, I love to see the way God has worked out recycling and regenerating, restoring and renewing. Sometimes His processes are incredible because of their simplicity, and sometimes because they're so complicated... Squirrel caches are a simple process; wildfires, insect infestations, and even disease often represent the more complicated.
Speaking of fires, after thoroughly touring the cabin area for a day we continued our trip by detouring around persistent wildfires and resulting road-closures. Amidst some dreadfully graphic but informative discussion with my husband about why many vehicles (mini-vans like ours, in particular) are not built for the style of mountain driving handed down to me by my ancestors, the vivid imagery and his gentle instruction reformed me as I drove us up steep, narrow, intensely banked, winding roads to the gold mining claims where my mom's family spent THEIR summers. (I wonder if renewing our minds makes us younger? I mean, whether it's God or my husband that enacts it, I feel like a whole new person after I'm re-formed!) There we quickly reminisced, hiked the old ditch, observed bear scat and poison oak closely, and took a two-minute wade in the old skinny-dipping pool. After a quiet family prayer time in the garden of my grandparents, it was nearing dusk as we started the last three-hour leg of our journey to the coast.
Did you know there is still at least one section of paved road in the United States that is a 10% grade? (If you know of others, please leave me a comment. I'd prefer to be forewarned!) It's five miles long, very winding, and relentless! The locals--including trucks--travel it at something close to the speed of light, but we were unfamiliar, unprepared, and it was already dark AND foggy. Even though I started down it in "L"--the lowest gear possible on an automatic transmission--I smoked our brakes about half a mile from the bottom. As spongy as the brakes suddenly became, we overshot the pull-out but managed to stop alongside of the guardrail, and although the engine/transmission groaned at first, it did manage to back us up into the pull-out...
Whew! Okay, so the Lord blessed us twofold: there was no one behind us when we had to stop and back up, and the brake pads didn't crumble into dust; rather, they worked fine again once they cooled off (20 minutes waiting plus another 20 miles later...). We arrived at the coast in time for "breakfast" at an all-night diner, and fell into bed for a pleasant round of regeneration, restoration, and renewal (i.e., r-e-s-t!).
Heavenly Father, YOU are an engaging, intriguing Father, too!!! Thank You for our parents and their heritage, our legacy. Thank You for putting in place processes of renewal for our bodies, souls, and minds. There are so many truths we don't yet know, so many erroneous conclusions we've jumped to and believed to a fault. Thank You that You are the Truth, our salvation, and our gentle, loving guide. Please bind us to Your will, Your truth, and the mind of Christ (which has perfect understanding of truth), and renew our minds. Set us free from the deceptions we've believed! In Jesus' name, amen.