I'm sure I've written before in this journal about the enormous fondness I have for the county park in Los Angeles County, California called Vasquez Rocks. Fans of the original James Tiberius Kirk version of Star Trek will know the place well--it's the "alien planet" in which Kirk and the lizard-man-Captain were placed in order to have a head-to-head duel, a really great story only slightly encumbered by the severe economizing done in the creation of the lizard-man's make-up and outfit. I must admit that I looked more like a bear in the costume my mother made for me when I was age 12 and singing "The Bare Necessities" from the Jungle Book in a trio with my brother and sister for the Gurdon, Arkansas "Junior Follies" in what must have been about the Summer of 1971. I can still smell the delicious savor of the mothball used to give body to my nose.
Vasquez Rocks is a pretty dry place. It's filled with the mothball-like scent of the creosote bush, a bush that smells like burning road tar because its propagating mission in life is to encourage a brush fire to burn it up (and thereby spread its seed pods indirectly with the next rain). One can stand on those lizard-man cliffs and see loping jackrabbits, plethoras of songbirds, hawks, and more than a few terrestrial lizards.
Inland southern California is a land of contrast and change. The weather, in particular, changes a great deal from year to year. Some years are drought years, when everything shrivels. One year in a great long while will be a heavy rain year, when rains fall for days on end.
One January or February day, many years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, no doubt accompanied by the cavemen riders postulated by the rather less educated educators who form a slim minority on the Texas State Board of Education, I was walking in Vasquez Rocks on a Saturday morning. I had the park virtually to myself, as can happen on winter days there.
In the very back of the park, within sight of the distant freeway, I came upon a field of tiny yellow flowers. They were virtually a carpet, like those flower carpets one sees in the work of Rocky Mountain wildflower photographers from Colorado to northern Alberta. But they were too small to photograph--they were like parlor music, meant to be played for an audience of one.
Each had a broad circular center, almost like tiny sunflowers, and each had gorgeous little petals, almost like a coneflower, and each was neither of those. I listened this morning on last.fm to the music of Arvo Part, and they were not like that at all, but the feeling they inspired in me then was similar to my feeling listening today. I lack even the barest hint of synesthesia, but when I hear music that sets me on a train of thought that after a time reminds me of those flowers, I taste contentment.