The off-ramp to the foothills was our escape from the hectic four-lane freeway. We were traveling into the wine country on business, and looking forward to the beautiful scenery that lie ahead.
Our compact car glided effortlessly on the smooth, newly paved highway. The other drivers we followed seemed well familiar with the course of twists and turns. The glow of taillights were seldom seen as the continuous line of cars appeared seamless, like a centipede, aimlessly meandering its’ course.
Around the bend, we came into a shady canyon where groupings of sprawling oak trees resided. Dry stringy moss wrapped around their twisting branches, and then hung down like long beards on old men. They stood close together as if sharing tales of the past, of quieter days when there was less traffic.
In younger years of smoother bark, they had gallantly reached high and wide with awe-inspiring grandeur. And now, with humble nobility, their gnarly arms seemed heavy with time, and scarred by the many critters that had plagued them.
Out of the canyon and into the open, I saw the luminescent light green of new growth boasting amongst various bushes and trees, and every other shade of green imaginable.
We dipped in and around the rolling hills of velvety green grass as the sun, high in the sky, lit up the clusters of yellow and orange poppies that crowded the roadside. With showy splendor, they greeted the cars passing by, with delicate pedals quivering in the breeze.
In the distance, long rows of grapevines ran over the curvy terrain and into the horizon in perfect straight lines as if large checker boards were strategically placed upon the grades.
They were parcels of obsession, proudly portraying a passionate love affair between a vintner and a vineyard, of nature conforming to the desires of it’s’ caregiver. They were a vision of flawless symmetry, distinct order, and devoted care.
Each plant, tendered with meticulous detail, was prepared like a bride for her season. With graceful arms reaching to the others on each side, they joyously awaited their tiny leaves to unfurl.
Masses of yellow mustard flowers filled the space between the rows of grapevines like crowds of young children playing in a park.
The road steered us on, from the countryside and into town.
Stop-and-go traffic slowed us to a crawl down the main avenue. After a few miles, we made it to our turn off and onto another freeway. With only thirty minutes to go, our car hummed along with the traffic at sixty-five.
The Inn was located on an adjacent road. The Innkeeper welcomed us with a cheerful smile as we entered through the door and gave him our name.
“Yes, we have you on the second floor looking over the pool. Room 222. If you would like internet access, the code you’ll need is on the back of your key card. Would you like some help with your bags?”
We looked at each other and paused, and then back at him, “No thank you. That won’t be necessary” then carried our bags up the stairs.
Out on the balcony of our room a slight cool breeze mingled with the relaxing warmth from the afternoon sun.
I looked up and saw columns of cumulus clouds parading across the blue sky as if conducted by an unseen mighty hand. Variations of light and dark were in their thickest parts, while their wispy boarders of white and silver swirled with the winds.
Admiring the scene, I realized this was enough for me. I did not need the internet, or even the digital apparatus of an iphone, that day. I felt richly blessed with the sensations that God had given me. I was where I wanted to be… in the moment with God.
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