Sometimes a day takes an unexpected turn. That happened to me recently, and it all started with a change in routine. Normally, Ted and I go for our walk in the late afternoon, but this day was hot, so we went after dinner—and that made all the difference.
It all started when we were walking on the sidewalk that borders a natural park. A chapparal-covered hill ends at the sidewalk. After the heat of the day, the mist of evening was beginning to dampen the scruffy hillside. A cricket concert was in full swing. The fragrance of sage and cowboy cologne was strong, and then I noticed the hillside was covered with glowing yucca blossoms.
Most of the year, this is a nondescript dark-green plant with tough, swordlike leaves. The transformation starts in late spring when a central stalk appears that will eventually be covered with creamy flowers. Californians love Yucca plants so much the plants are protected by law. So you never see them in a formal garden, and somehow that makes them even more special. This year we were blessed by an abundance of Candles of the Desert—their colloquial name.
But it wasn’t only the natural landscape that was different. Sheltered from the bleaching sun, gardens planted in front of homes glowed in the soft light of sunset. Flowers were brighter; trees were greener. Squirrels ran across fencetops, and rabbits nibbled on damp lawns. The scent of jasmine and honeysuckle wafted through the air.
After Ted and I arrived home from our refreshing walk, I decided to listen to some music. Alexa, the Amazon device, lives right by the windows in the front of our house, and I’m sorry to say she was ignoring me. I repeated “Alexa” several times, and then I looked up. In the twilight, a healthy young coyote was standing on the sidewalk, staring at me. I stared back, but then started again with “Alexa!” But every time I said, “Alexa,” the coyote, who had started to walk away, would stop and stare. (Maybe that was her name?) Eventually, this adolescent got bored and headed back up into the chapparal, where weird humans were not talking to her.
Later in the evening, a full eclipse of the moon began. With the naked eye, the large crater looked like a giant crack. I had to get out the binoculars to make sure the moon was not splitting apart. I watched it off and on until it was an official blood moon—hauntingly beautiful and somewhat eerie. In bed I watched as Earth’s shadow slowly receded, eventually falling asleep in the half light of the full moon.
I never did get Alexa to respond that day, and then I discovered she wasn’t plugged in. But that’s okay. My evening was blessed by nature’s own symphony of colorful flora, fauna, and even planets. A time to be remembered and shared, and it started by doing an everyday task at a different time.
“The earth has music for those who listen.”