Upland 1. The higher portions of a region, district, farm, etc. 2. The country in the interior.
It took a long time to get here. In October of 1994 I bought a big map, spread it on the floor, laid a yardstick across it, and drew a straight line from Vancouver, where I lived then, to southern California. I packed my car and followed that line as close as I could. On the sixth morning, October 12, I woke in a tent near San Jacinto and was on the road early. By late morning, driving south on highway 79, I came into country that opened wide and deep in golden curves. I was on my way somewhere else but I made a note. Sixteen years later, I was camping one weekend in September and looked in at a realty office across from the breakfast café. The realtor pulled up a Craigslist posting for this house. It turned out that I signed the lease on October 12.
Now I’m here and I’m not the young woman I was. I’m at the edge of an open space. It’s a perch, a shelf, a chance. It’s quite bare and lone. It’s not mine and I can’t stay long.
There is the land and there’s the house. There’s here and there’s then, there, other places with a similar meaning. There are my years. There’s what I know about the double of anything, darkly translucent to my right, the unsolid mythic double view.
Under the oak, cup of tea, sun in my eyes.
A notch to the southwest where with the field glasses I can see the towers of a city on the coast.
The furthest hill, palest blue, a bit of a rim, almost due south, in Mexico.
Oak lattice squirming in dawn breeze.
Whiffs of smoke from my chimney.
There’s Linda going to work in the pie shop.
Very small asters still blooming. Something yellow, a mustard? Little dark bird with a crest.
Wind sounding in the pines, especially in the pines.
The day is sublimely warm, a free mobile air. Here I am!
a type of lightly forested grassland … maintained historically through wildfires set by lightning or humans, grazing, low precipitation, and/or poor soil
Among hardwood trees, oaks are uniquely resistant to fire. … The two principal fuels of an oak savanna fire are grasses and oak leaves. Oak leaves contain flammable chemicals; in addition, oak leaves remain in curled positions on the forest floor, so that fire moves readily from one leaf to another.
Intact oak savannas are now one of the rarest plant communities on earth.
Most oaks of full tree size are more than one hundred years old. Few saplings survive because grazing cattle decimate them.
family of blue-leafed oaks … usually narrow, blunt, untoothed dull blue-green leaves
found only in Southern California
Mesa Grande and the Santa Ysabel Valley support the largest remaining expanse of Engelmann oak woodland habitat
Last night a bit before sunset we walked a ways past the cattleguard and sat on an edge of the asphalt to look down a shallow crease toward more slopes, more oaks, more rocks. The sun went down orange behind us.
It was here, under an oak. Rocks gently. The high back supports perfectly.
Twilight watch. I’m out on the iron chair and have just seen the new moon between fine branches.
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