The day was still husky with heat when we left our cozy little domicile and headed off in search of some mountainside to scamper.
Dell was particularly interested, as he'd not been on a hike sufficient for all his sniffing needs in some time. He and Israel were restrained on a threadbare word, only long enough to determine that the course they wished to take was not suitable for the rest of the clan.
They were gone in a flash, and Aubrey and I were left, Keller in tow, to find our own adventure.
We wandered under the canopy of numerous majestic oaks, drinking in the shade. Meandering onward, we came to the end of the grove. An abrupt finish to a delicious stroll stood before us. Chain link fences encapsulated a large swath of territory, announcing in big signs "CONSTRUCTION ZONE!" "DO NOT ENTER".
We shrugged our shoulders, feeling the disappointment twice now, of not being able to take the path of choice. Adjusting once again, we pressed on. This time, a dry, rocky riverbed that travelled underneath a highway overpass presented itself to us. Were we destined for an unfruitful hike? No desirable items of nature to fall under our gaze?
I spied a cement walkway across the remains of a once flourishing stream. "Look! We can use that walkway!" I encouraged Aubrey. She was doubtful. "I'll go check and see if it actually goes anywhere." she said.
As she carefully placed her steps, she was unaware that I had the jogging stroller a mere step or two behind her. "Help me lift the front end over that crag." I said.
"MOM!" came the exasperated reply, but assist she did.
We were now smooth sailing, Keller no longer bounced and jiggled in his harness.
That's when we noticed the mural on the inside of the overpass' supporting beams. PLACERITA CANYON BEFORE MAN it was titled ~ and frame after frame depicted the lush countryside once cared for in organic means by the native tribes, only to be progressively depleted and desiccated by the hungry press of the white man. The ending frame revealed a gent, sleeping roll laid out under a huge oak, a land title nearby, and his skinny frame holding up a pull of wild onions, glistening at the tip with gold dust.
It was a remarkable moment of education, laid out visually before my daughter who is studying American history in depth this year, and currently looking at the native peoples to this land. To my delight, it was not lost on her.
We exited the hollow of the overpass, and found ourselves smack dab in the vicinity of the previously depicted oak, along with a monument marker, describing the very scene that had been laid out for us seconds before via artistic means.
Gold had been discovered in California six years prior to Sutters' discovery that incited the Gold Rush.
A relatively quiet discovery that intersected one man's life was now intersecting ours.
The gnarled oak stood tall and proud and fierce. It had no intention of toppling anytime soon. The sycamore trees that surrounded it were bent and beautiful, and Aubrey began to climb.
I began to sing.
"Zaccheus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he;
He climbed up in a sycamore tree, for the Lord he wanted to see . . ."
"Mom! Stop singing!" she protested.
"But it's a sycamore tree, Aubrey!"
"I know, Mom! But you aren't even singing the song right . . ." her teen aged perspective stated.
I smiled to myself. Perhaps Mr. Lopez had found gold under this tree many years ago.
I was finding gold myself: in the form of a precious window of time with my daughter - her defenses down, her heart open, and discovery at every turn. Yes, the gold I was beholding was Lord in her. As she climbed that sycamore tree, she could not help but reflect a child-like heart that pleases Him. Regardless of the bravado that was spoken, she, too, was silently relishing the moments with mom, surrounded by nothing but mountains and oaks and murals and overpasses.
The Golden Dream? Connection; relationship; life.