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Topic: Father Magic
Message: Posted by: funsway (Jun 19, 2009 04:40AM)
It being near Father's day and all, a magical story.

My father was not one for mystery, nor missing school; but he woke me at 1 AM with the simple words, “now come!” I did – and a day of wonder began. We stopped at the old Senator Hotel where pancakes lingered over the edge of the plate and two were enough for even me in early teens. Restaurant coffee for the first time ever. "A long way to go," he said.

We drove 372 miles, the last 60 on dirt roads. Dew was still on the tips of the rabbit brush in the valley – 9 AM, but the 12,000 ft. peaks held back the dawn – forever. Actually, dew did not happen often at all. Rainfall there is less than 3 inches per year – mostly barren snow crystals. Only once every fifty years or so is there enough moisture for flowers to grow. That is why we were there. The air was incredibly clear, not just because we were at 6300 ft. elevation -- something more. There is no sound – no movement – no breeze -- just flowers.

Dad directed that I start filling out a notebook with descriptions of each type of flower I found. I crawled on shale scraped knees – lower. Many flowers are but pinpoints of dazzling color and singular shape. By noon I had catalogued more than 300 varieties, having traveled only forty feet or so. I looked up at a mile long slope of pastel wonder only visible if your eyes was inches from the earth. Difficult work, for if I breathed on them they withered and shrank out of sight. A passing plane would see only scrub brush and scattered rock. I understand why we had come. Or so I thought.

We inched our way up an imaginary trail to the ridgeline for lunch. The valley floor seemed a swipe of green stain against a thousand square miles of endless mountains and ravines. The few occasional trees were lost in the distance. There are no insects at this elevation. There are, however, Bristlecone Pines -- fourteen trees, nine with placards and identifying names. The guardian Indian tribes only give names to trees more than 1500 years old – they know such things. So does my dad. We were not bothered by the silent sentinels -- perhaps they had seen us with the flowers. I will not describe the trees or the experience. It was for contrast that we climbed there – to stand before the elder – the tree called “Breath.” For more than 4,000 years it has watched the magic in the valley below -- sudden flowers that will live but a day or so – then also but a breath of memory. I thought, "Here are the oldest and youngest life on earth -- which is more incredible?"

“It is almost time,” nudged my father, and we returned to the valley floor. The spring temperature had climbed from the pre-dawn 35 degrees to more than 90, but we sat in the car – waiting. There seemed to be a darkening in the sky to the south. Dad got out and threw netting over the front of the car – over the windows now rolled down. They came! Millions of bees descended on the gentle carpet with a deafening roar – a sound I had only heard once before – and avalanche crashing through the quivering pines. But here it was the sound of life, not death. It might have been midnight on a slight moon night. Then as suddenly – gone. No flitting, wandering forms. No lazy murmurs or darting shadows. The silence pressed down.
“How do they know?” I asked – hours later – still far from home. "These seeds lay dormant for 50 years, then grow to maturity in a week. How do the bees know? Where do they come from?"
“Discover that,“ he whispered. “You will know everything.”

I wondered what I missed in school?

Forty years later by elder brother made the trip, intrigued by the story. He asked dad about the adventure -- mystified perhaps that he had not been asked along. Dad said, "What? Get up in the middle of the night and drive across the state for some flowers? Not possible." Too many words for him -- so Ted believed me.

When he found the valley many things had changed. Climatic shifts had allowed that rainfall doubled --still scant, but enough that flowers grew each year, and grass and trees in the gully. One type of flower had won out above all the rest -- lupine. Perhaps the other seeds are still laying there -- waiting. The road to the high ridges are fenced and guarded by Indians who conduct tours -- to protect the twelve remaining trees. The name placards are gone in order to protect the identity of the most ancient ones. Disappointed, my brother sought out the senior guide (guardian), and said, "I came for 'Breath' and the 'Thunder of the Bees'." Ted was taken back up the heights and met 'Breath' but was not allowed to take pictures. He spend the evening camped with the Indians and learned of the tales of the 'Living Darkness' of legend, and the belief that the spirits of the land are slowly departing.
Message: Posted by: Mick Ayres (Jun 19, 2009 10:47AM)
Thank you. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your tale.

Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Jun 19, 2009 10:52AM)
Great stuff. Thanks so much!

Message: Posted by: ed rhodes (Jun 19, 2009 10:47PM)
Ohmigod, ohmigod, MILLIONS of bees! *shudder* You have to understand that I ran into a bee hive once when I was young and got them caught in my clothing! It was YEARS before the concept of bees stopped making me shudder! (The scene in "Fried Green Tomatoes" that ran on the review shows made me decide I didn't need to see the film THAT badly!) The very concept of THAT many bees... arrrgh! (Runs away from the computer screaming)

(Sheepishly realizes he has to come back to click on "Submit Reply"