Dandelion Dreams – The Sierra Nevadas of my Childhood

This morning I was woken up by a woodpecker. However, it was a very large Stellar Jay who got me out of bed just before 6 am. It sounded like a bear coming to see what had been on the barbeque or bold visitor coming up on to the front deck. Just a bird playing the drums on the bbq.

From the dock

A perfect half-moon is still visible at 12 o’clock in the sky and the only sounds are the waterfall that Edison is allowing to fall, the twitter of little birds, and the occasional call of a California Gull. No one has ventured out on the lake or down Rush Creek on paddle boards yet. No one has ventured out on the hike up the mountain towards Carson Peak. The mountain air is still too cold for the mosquitoes get up. It is a different world first thing in the morning in the mountains. The sky is so uniformly blue and the mountains so perfect that they look like a Hollywood set. Perfection.

I read once that so many movie stars came to the June Lake Loop because it was written into their contract that they could never be more than five hours away from Los Angeles. On our little Silver Lake alone, Wallace Berry, the Sr. Mr. Capra, and Walter Lantz bought cabins up in the Eastern Sierra Nevadas. In 1973, we stumbled on to the set of High Plains Drifter and Clint Eastwood at the south end of Mono Basin. A whole town erected in 28 days, then sold off or given away. It always struck me as odd that Hollywood had already discovered this pristine piece of wilderness. Yet, even on our hike to Panum Crater yesterday, the memory flickered through my mind as we got high enough to take in the vast expanse of dust and sagebrush. Clint Eastwood with no other choice than to take the first shot. Nothing to hide behind out here.

On the rim of Panum Crater overlooking Mono Lake

The only shots my husband, Brad and I were taking yesterday, were from our cell phones.  To document how high we climbed on the rim of Panum Crater.  The desert wildflowers.  The colour of Mono Lake.  The tufa towers.  The audacious pines defying all reason by growing between the rim and the core of the crater.  The plethora of obsidian still there, in all it’s glory.  A clear indication that this area has not been geotagged like Obsidian Dome, where all pieces of carriable obsidian have been swept away into pockets and perhaps collections near and far. 

I first learned to passionately love rocks in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on those first trips to Obsidian Dome with my California family and my older sister.  In those days, there were no rules with signs forbidding the removal of obsidian or pumice from the area.  Just tons of black volcanic glass reflecting the desert sun.  On one visit to Obsidian Dome, my very intelligent, neurosurgeon father brought a sledge hammer to claim a substantial chunk of obsidian to display beside the cabin.  I was fascinated and intrigued by the possibility.  My father had me stand back but I nevertheless had a front row seat.  He pulled back that sledge hammer and slammed it down on a big chunk of particularly brilliant obsidian.  That sledge hammer bounced off that obsidian and flew back so fast that my father only had seconds to tilt his head, with his own precious brain, to the left, and focus all his energy onto keeping from losing his grip on the sledge hammer.  A narrow miss that kept me holding my breath.  Our eyes locked.

My obsidian tower in Patnum Crater

“Son of a bitch!  That thing nearly killed me!”

We went home without a large chunk of obsidian but a healthy respect for the Paiute Peoples who were able to fashion obsidian into arrow heads and spears for their own purposes.  Clearly, they were not using sledge hammers.  

Dandelion Dreams is the section of my blog devoted to myself as a writer. The name is inspired by my favourite piece of art by David Klassen. It was previously known as Sunday’s Child. Too many of us were born on a Sunday.

Published by Carrie Froese

Curiosity guarantees a life of learning😀 Let me help you find the answer to your questions about educational practice, setting up a small business with a focus on education, and running a non-profit with a focus on educational events.

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