Monday, March 14, 2011

Each Moment Matters

Maggie on the Desert Trail
Campsite in the desert wilderness area of Anza Borrego
I was camped in the Anza Borrego Desert of southern California.  I had just completed a three day pack trip into the wilderness area with a couple of cool new Canadian friends.

delicate desert blossom

Lizard posing in the sunshine
Hummingbird on the nest
The cycle of life in the desert
A day hike culminates in a waterfall cave

Back in cell phone reception, I checked my voice mail and learned that my 25 year old nephew, Mathew had died.  He died of respiratory arrest after a fall during a seizure.  It was a tragedy for our family, and I dropped everything, made arrangements for the horses, called my boys, and prepared to make the journey for the funeral in Bismark, North Dakota.

I headed out that evening and stopped in Altadena, near LA, to rest at the home of my dear friends Paul and Donna.  They took me in, and gave me a comfortable bed to rest for a few hours.  They woke me at 0430 with herbal teas, breakfast, and a bag of dried fruits, nuts, and other treats for the road.  Friends like this are such a cherished blessing in my life.
My three sons Zak, Jesse, and Sylvain

I drove north to San Francisco, and Jesse and Zak jumped in with me.  We bought groceries, gassed up, and drove east on I80, all the way to Colorado, where Sylvain, my oldest son, was waiting to join us.  The four of continued the rest of the way to North Dakota, arriving about 1:00 am the next morning.

Passing through Wyoming

It was good to be with family during such a time of grief and mourning.  All my siblings were present, as well as many nieces and nephews, friends, and families of my sister in-law.  We all shared the grief, the tears, the emotional burden of knowing our beloved Mathew was gone.  We also shared memories, food, love, and a new appreciation of the fleeting nature of life.
My brother's oldest son Sam and youngest daughters, Natalie and Luiza

After a brief stop in Fort Collins, and some warm and wonderful moments with friends, we drove the rest of the way back to California.
The tragic stories from Japan also remind us of how quickly our lives can end.

After hugging my sons, headed down the Pacific Coast on highway one, stopping to enjoy the beauty of the area in one of my favorite beaches south of Half Moon Bay.  The succulents were blooming, and the dunes were covered in an amazing display of pink and yellow blooms.  I spent a few moments basking in the the beauty of the moment, realizing that it would soon pass, as everything does.

Fleeting blooms of succulents cover the dunes
Blossoms coat the dunes.  One of my favorite beaches.

I happened to remember that a new friend lived nearby, and I called him to see if he wanted company for the evening.  He welcomed me into his home, and thawed a beautiful 9 inch abalone for supper.  He showed me how to slice it thin, pound it thinner, coat it with delicious fine bread crumbs, and cook it over a flame to a tender morsel of wonderful eating.  Wow, that was something.

Dennis prepares the Abalone

The secret - slice it thin and pound it thinner.
The feast is ready!  Lemon and parmesan,
a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc on the side.
What a delicacy to enjoy.
I slept hard for 10 hours after that special meal, and now am ready to head south down the coast again, getting closer with every mile to where my herd awaits me for our next adventure together.

The experience of spending such wonderful quality time with my sons and family over the past week has reminded me to cherish every day that we get live on this earth, even when times are tough.  I am more committed than ever to immerse myself in mindful awareness of the wonder that surrounds me in every moment.

Love is everywhere, when I take the time to notice.