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CHASING DOWN THE MUSE: Sights, sounds and smells of spring

The resident mockingbird had kept me awake, tossing and turning, most of the night again on this beautiful early spring morning. Still, I was determined. I was going to walk. I figured I could even be pragmatic and get tasks done along the way. To this end, I started down Bluebird Canyon, headed for town.

The hills were alive with mustard and lupine, and the bleating of goats trimming the grasses all down. A soft cool breeze caressed my skin as I walked. The canyon may not be wilderness, but it still holds a strong feel for nature in certain sections left undeveloped over time. There may be people who have little or no need for nature. I am not among them. Consistently, I find that my connection to the natural world is where I find the connection to myself, to my spirit. This beautiful day only reconfirmed this as I walked.

To drive to the center of town would surely have been much simpler. Cool as the air was, my skin was wet and soaking my clothing as I walked. Because my intention was to do banking and small shopping errands, I needed to carry my backpack, which tended to hinder my feeling of freedom. The ever-handy bottle of water is all I really wanted to carry. The pack was a small price to pay, though, for being out and striding apace.

Coming out of the cool canyon shadows as I passed Bluebird Park, the sound of children at play reached my ears. A birthday party. Fun. They were certainly enjoying the day already. Then there was a return to relative silence on that early morning as I turned down residential streets to continue my meandering route to town.


My mind busy with thoughts of all kinds that had no bearing on the walk or what I was seeing, I still could not help but notice budding trees and plants along the way. There were also signs that springtime was getting others out into their gardens to tend them — clearing winter debris and planting anew. While I often notice things akin to this as I drive, there is always something special about the slow passing, even stopping to smell freesia and other spring posies planted near the street.

A garage sale caught my attention. Without stopping, I wrestled with my backpack to search for my cell phone.

“Susan, what are you doing? Get down here. There’s a garage sale and they have lots of picture frames.”

I then gave her the location, returning the phone to its place on my back. I knew that a lot of us artists are struggling to make ends meet for the summer shows and that perhaps she might find these frames useful for her beautiful paintings.


I love our town’s residential streets. There is such a wonderful mix of old and new, cared for and untended, drab and colorful. Every house is different, expressing the character of the residents. This is one of the beauties of this unique place we call home. It seems I see something new each time I wander like I did that day. Many others were also out, apparently headed for town and the Saturday farmers’ market next to City Hall.

At last reaching town, I did my errands easily, even stopping for coffee under the pepper trees with my young friend Emily before heading back up the hill. As I turned up St. Ann’s Drive I began to question the wisdom of not getting a bite to eat too as my stomach protested loudly. My step not quite so spry now, I trudged on, taking a different route home just to see what I might see.

Passing our resident goatherd with the lovely, friendly smile, I happened to hear a hawk call out overhead. I watched this glimpse of wild nature as he soared above the stately canyon eucalyptus. My step slowed some as my eyes sought to follow the red-tail until it passed out of sight up-canyon. I love that we live in a bird sanctuary and that our many trees are home to so many species.

Home again and stretching out tired but well-used muscles, I thought again how lucky we are. To live where nature and even a touch of wilderness surround us is such a gift. We have the sea and the hills and even the streets to explore. To have the good health to enjoy it as I am able to do is sweet blessing. There is a spiritual necessity for these moments of solitude and solace in nature to be cherished — I do.

CHERRIL DOTY is an artist, writer, and creative coach exploring and enjoying the many mysteries of life in the moment. She can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (714) 745-9973.