motorcycle gleamed in the warm sunshine as he prepared to depart.
It gave him a sense of pride - for a man gains a certain sense
of confidence and satisfaction from taking proper care of his
equipment. And she was beautiful, he thought. The combination
of black and chrome had caught his eye more than a year ago
and he had not seen another since which turned his head in quite
the same way.
would she take him today? He did not know. Sometimes it is
good to have a plan, he thought. Other times - well he knew
that destiny and his sense of adventure would take him where
he needed to go.
day was more than gorgeous, and as he cruised along the highway
the overwhelming sense of freedom made him smile. For a little
while, at least, he had nothing to worry about but the upcoming
adventure and the sheer enjoyment he received from riding.
It was something he had missed dearly during those long, lonely,
so often happened, the warm breeze and feeling of happiness
reminded him of the unique, fascinating, mysterious
woman he had met so far away in another place of warm breezes
and tropical sunsets. She had left this world too soon.
hadn't planned to turn off into the canyon. It merely appeared
and he knew instinctively it was the path chosen for him this
day. He had only explored it once before, but not very far.
As he rode the twisting mountain road, there was no difference
between man-and-machine. The two were one. He did not think:
"fast, slow, turn, brake". None of these thoughts
occurred to him. He merely moved like the wind along the chosen
path - the habits of control too deeply ingrained in him to
require conscious thought.
as he rode, he became acutely aware of every detail of his
surroundings; cool moist pockets of air along the winding
creeks which followed or crossed the road; warm dry desert
air as he circled the peaks and crossed the desert-facing
slopes. Everything reminded him of her. The cooler areas reminded
him of her lively spirit and refreshing candor. And the warm,
sunny spots were so much like her warm smile - and the comforting
feeling that always accompanied the thought of her.
Clarita Divide Road", the sign said as he rode past.
It beckoned him. "Come. This is the way." And so
he turned around and entered the seldom-traveled road. "Caution:
road width varies next 44 miles", the sign said. Vegetation
encroached upon the sides of the single-lane road and grew
through cracks in the aged pavement. It smelled of mystery.
And so it led him on past grand vistas from peak to peak.
Something whispered "Here. This is the place.",
and so he stopped and climbed a peak. She was still on his
mind as he surveyed his surroundings.
the east, a series of pine-covered peaks climbed higher and
higher toward Mount Wilson, home of the legendary observatory.
South lay the sprawling City of Angels, the metropolis extending
through Orange County and San Diego all the way to the Mexican
border one hundred fifty miles away. To the north the great
Angeles Forest stretched far and desolate. But it was to the
west that his attention turned as the sun began to approach
the horizon. Already the high, wispy clouds had turned a delicate
shade of peach from horizon to horizon. She was still on his
mind, and he hoped that he could send her some small part
of the magnificence that was his privilege to witness. Yet
he knew this was not the final spot that would do justice
to the memory of her. And so he climbed back down to venture
forth once more.
found it. Bear Divide Vista. It was deserted, but he knew
the road must lead to the spot that would culminate the day's
adventure. As he turned in and negotiated the twisting, climbing
roadway he wondered: "Why do I think of her so? Do I
infer upon her all the beauty and magnificence and tenderness
that is the essence of womanhood?" Well, no matter. For
on that day and in that time and place, she and the magnificent
dream were one and the same.
turned to take in the view. "Yes, she would like this",
he thought. The twinkle of city lights stretched 20 miles
or more to the Pacific Ocean. He could see Catalina Island
and there - nearly ninety miles offshore - the hills of remote
San Nicholas. From east
to west, north to south, the sky was ablaze with color. From
the yellow-orange ball of the setting sun to the brilliant
orange and fiery red clouds of the western horizon, to the
light pinks and deep purples of the high wind-blown cirrus
clouds that stretched across the sky - gradually replacing
the crystal daytime skies that were now fading to velvet midnight
the sunlight faded and the gentle breeze brushed his arms,
he hoped that he had been able to send some small part of
that splendor to her. It was perhaps the only gift that he
could give to her.
turned to go, and knew that the ride home would be a chilly
one. The sun had set and dark shadows lay across the canyons.
Yet he imagined that the thought of her would keep him warm
along the way.
so it did.
Lee A. Shurie
January 12, 2002