In the foothills above Pasadena, hiking trails either slope or climb quickly, delivering adventurers to nature's version of quiet - songbirds, raptors, running streams. A reverie, not quite a dream, during the night took me to a long-ago afternoon in the headland of the Arroyo Seco; it must have been spring for the water ran clear and fast from bank to bank. We crossed it on rocks as we found them for it was too deep to wade.
The picture I retrieved was of a moment when the stream paused, fallen limbs created a pool before the run-off picked up speed once more. On the grainy bottom, amid pebbles and spotty plant life, a coral-colored salamander or newt lay in the shade. It was bright and warm of hue, an element of fire that shone its small light upward through the dimness. I remember surprise at discovering the amphibian; that land spends most of the year with few options for a water-lover to dampen its skin.
Soon that memory shifted to another, yet the day had been returned to me, filling my cells with the information they absorbed, afoot for a only and hour or so with my father and brother, just out of view of neighborhoods, roads and outward signs of civilization. It did not feel random, the gift of moments from a much earlier time. Was there a message and, if so, would I be able to decode it?
As I considered the pieces, collectively or sequestered as their separate parts, I made the hasty leap to a dismissive attitude I often have regarding dreams: it was an entertainment, an amusement, just an anonymous offering my brain decided to bring forth. Yet as I also find with dreams, the awareness of journey was strong. When your senses tell you that you've gone to a place other than where you began your sleep, believe them.
Operating on the assumption that our first sincere take is the true one, I found myself thinking of hidden jewels: the half-dream, the salamander on that day, all the clips from all the years that hold blessings unacknowledged. I had asked for inspiration and illumination yesterday and here was a story, breathed in my direction like a dandelion wish. A barrier had fallen, a path had been cleared. Having lived more of my life than not with a mind that selectively offered grim and discouraging thoughts or images, what a reversal of fortune to be shown the peaceful and lovely.
I will pay attention today to the ghosts that stop by, willing myself to embrace scenes from the shadowbox past. I will welcome the unexplained and know it is here for a reason. The gleam on the creek bed may be fool's gold, yet if what matters is the glow it casts and not its worth at the assay office, I'd say the effort has been rewarded.