Yesterday we went hiking at the Batiquitos Lagoon near Carlsbad. It wasn’t the most difficult hike I’ve ever been on, nor was it the most resplendent. Yet it satisfied. The lagoon is officially designated as an ecological preserve, and is known as a good area for birding.
The trail is a mostly flat affair that winds around the northern banks of the lagoon. You can hear the freeway noise, especially at the trailhead. There are housing developments and a golf course to the north. Even with civilization encroaching, there is a sort of peaceful magic to the area. As you move to the east, the landscape emerges, pushes its way into the consciousness. Coastal Goldenbrush, Cattails, Prickly Pear Cacti, Sweet Fennel, and Coyote Brush shape the space with texture. Soft unfurling, sharp spears, chaotic crackling, Fibonacci-esque twirls, and exploding puffs.
All around us, the trees and brush rustled. The lizards we saw were not so standard. Spikes broke through the scales on their backs and legs. A scaly plate swept from their noses to their foreheads. One had bright blue markings. An assortments of birds lingered, darted and hopped. Above us circled large birds of prey. Looking out into the lagoon, we were intrigued by sudden frothy disruptions on the surface of the water. Mystified, we stopped to watch it. Soon we realized it was fish, leaping straight up from the water. Apparently, we’d witnessed jumping Mulletts cleaning out their gills.
But why does it matter?
So much of my day is surrounded by contrived environments. Concrete, pavement, glass and metal. In addition to the materials is the pace. The rush from here to there, with my mind always on the next destination. I forget. I forget that there is both more and less then us. Being out in nature, listening to it, feeling it, touching smelling seeing–it lures me away from the standard hectic propulsion of life. It reminds me of the baser elements of being, but also the more pure. It’s the clean air, the slow process of regaining mindfulness, becoming fully aware and present in the moment. It tells a story of balance and what happens when things are out of balance, both on a global scale (ecosystems) and at the level of something far more personal.