Summer days should be about ‘big fat nothings’.
‘Nothing’ is more restorative to the mind, body and spirit.
Amidst the COVID-19 hullaballoo, this is exactly what we experienced when we explored less frequented parts of Northern California.
First stop Greenville, CA.
We stayed at the Meyer ranch. Its vast expanse, 500 acres of land, framed by mountain ranges is jaw droppingly beautiful. A tapestry of spectacular sights and sounds made for a memorable getaway.
The contented moos of cattle. The distant rumble of a freight train traversing the plains, almost apologetically breaking the stillness of the countryside.
Birdsong. The gentle hum of tractors and distant hollers of the family as they go about their morning chores.
The rapturous sound of an unexpected, heavy thunderstorm that squelches the summer heat and evokes memories of Indian monsoons.
The happy pup that greets us each morning.The quiet, older dog that solemnly accompanies me on my morning ramblings through the ranch.
The ecstatic shriek of my son as he lands his first catch at Round Lake.
Our blissful sighs as we wade into a reservoir, cooling off under an azure sky.
Living in a city, one often cannot see the wonders of the night sky. At the ranch, we were reminded of the universe beyond us by the twinkling gaze of a gazillion stars. We were also able to clearly identify Jupiter and Saturn!
An early riser, I loved exploring the ranch on my morning walks. Most days, the sun was bright even at 7.00 am, while the day after it rained, a light morning fog enveloped the valley. Lots of open fields to wander in. A purple flowering shrub, growing all over the ranch turned out to be chicory.
A pasture close to the entrance, had a very friendly horse. The horse would come over to the fence and nuzzle against me. There was also a large barn that housed an indoor basketball play area. My son was thrilled to take advantage of it.
Our cabin was compact, yet well furnished and comfortable. I liked its grassy yard, where I often walked barefoot, rediscovering the joys of grounding. A wooden bench on the porch was my favorite spot to read, listen to the birds and sip my tea.
A short drive away from the cabin, the ranch held a hidden treasure- a reservoir that one can swim and kayak in. We jumped into the cool water and rested after a day of explorations around Greenville. The following evening we kayaked. It was so relaxing!
On our first day at the ranch, the host family graciously fixed up a fishing pole for my son and gave him a socially distant lesson on how to use it. My son practiced diligently.
The line was wildly entangled by now. The next morning, I spent a tedious hour untangling the line. Thankfully, this perseverance paid off later.
We first drove through a beautiful stretch of the county to get to a town called Taylorsville. Here, we picked up our lunch and bait at a historic general store, admired its functioning cash register from days bygone and vowed to return for its legendary milkshakes.
We then drove a short distance to a nearby creek that was recommended as a local gem.
My son practiced casting with his pole. He hooked bait to get the ‘hang of it’. Local families were at the creek, several kids were also on their horses, splashing around in the water. We then picnicked under a lovely grove of pines. The plan was to then to head towards Round Lake, which we heard was great for fishing.
Round Lake is an expansive reservoir. It used to supply the drinking water supply for Greenville, now it is a recreational area. We found Round Lake to be beautiful although the summer outgrowth of algae bloom was quite expansive. An elderly couple we met at the lake shared that the algae died each winter but came roaring back after. They reiterated that fish were plentiful at Round Lake. We also got some helpful tips on how much bait should be used.
After a few false starts and a lot of support and encouragement from my husband, my son caught his first fish, a bluegill! He then caught another but eventually decided to release both back into the lake.
The next day, we made it back to Round Lake. This time we hiked on the flat, paved road, pausing to admire wolf lichens. Near the water, I chanced upon the leaves of a plant that seemingly had the image of the sun imprinted in its center!
We then walked back to a beautiful spot under the pines where we had parked. It was absolutely silent, we seemed to be the only ones at the lake on a Monday morning. We read for a while. My son pelted stones in the water, then went back to reading. At one point, my tween looked up and said appreciatively, “ It is so quiet here”.
Later that evening, we drove to the reservoir and plunged into its refreshing spell.
We watched the sun and clouds play hide and seek while we drifted on the water. Shrieks and laughter filled the air. Soon after, a few raindrops smacked down at us. As we made our way back to the cabin, some unexpected pedestrians crossed the dirt road. They watched us curiously for a few seconds, then turned away to look at the mountains.
It was a perfect way to end a day filled with big fat nothings that meant everything to our hearts and souls.