The perfect breakfast.
October 28, 2010

Sometimes, I can see a rough morning coming a mile away.  And as my daughter fusses, angrily rubs her eyes and writhes about on the bed, I know that THIS is one of those mornings.  She hasn’t been awake five minutes before I find myself knocking down my neighbor’s door.

The words spill out of my mouth.  Do you mind if I pluck a pomegranate off your tree?  He smiles at my baby, standing there with his morning coffee and that favorite pair of gardening gloves.  Take two, he says.

Afterwards, we head to the arroyo.  I sing nursery rhymes in the car to keep her calm.  She is holding a book filled with animal silhouettes marching off the pages.  She loves that book.

As I strap her to my back in the parking lot, I find myself looking around.  I love the arroyo.  This place seems magical to me, with its dusty trails and its brown plants.  It is raining today and the new smells are exciting.  We hike half a mile up the trail, my baby cooing contentedly along the way, the breakfast I packed swinging beneath her knees.  I look around again.  And in a second, we are gone.  We leave the trail.

We are following a narrow path, a twisting slinking snake of an animal path that a ranger showed us a few weeks ago.  We weave this way and that and I stop sometimes and stoop and point, showing my daughter every inch of this land.  Ground spiders and gophers and chickadees.  When we reach the top of the hill, we stop.

It’s like looking over creation.

I kneel down and my daughter steps out of her pouch.  We can see the shoreline: the mists of the morning rolling out, the islands off the shore, a pier.  We can see the city: the curling loops of highway traffic, the burning lights, a wall of skyscrapers.  We can see the desert: the long orange plains, the deep green ravine, a cactus nursery.  Soon I pull out breakfast.  I save the pomegranate for last.

She is sitting in my lap and we are watching the world wake up.  I crack the pomegranate open and she bites off a dozen seeds, rolls them around in her mouth.  She makes happy noises as she chews.  It is just the two of us atop this hill and it is quiet here.  Birds chirp and butterflies flutter and some sort of small rabbit nibbles a bush nearby.

Norman MacLean wrote that in his family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.  And in this moment, as scarlet juice rolls down my arms and dribbles down my daughter’s chin, as her rough morning slowly turns into something peaceful and happy, as she signs to me asking for more, more, more of those sweet red seeds, I remember that quote.

Right now, it seems to me that there is no clear line between religion and sharing a pomegranate with my child.


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  1. By on October 28, 2010

    BEAUTIFUL post.  I for one would love to see a picture of that view from the top of the hill.  It sounds magnificent. :)

  2. By Sarah Christensen on October 28, 2010

    Alisa - I’m taking her again today, so I’ll try to remember to bring the camera =)

  3. By on October 28, 2010

    We are in Southern California too and I would love to know where that is!  And yes, a picture (or two or three!) is definitely needed.

  4. By Emilie on October 28, 2010

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and for the kind words :)

    Your photos are absolutely beautiful!

    Isn`t it just the best feeling being surrounded by nature and the people that you love. I go for walks everyday in the forest behind my house and it really is one of my favorite moments of the day :)
    Have a great day!

  5. By Megan R. on October 28, 2010

    there is no clear line between religion and anything we do with our children…every day is an opportunity to realize that even more. 

    hope to see a pic, too…sounds so lovely!

  6. By on October 28, 2010

    This was one of your best, Sarah…..beautifully and tenderly written…..it took me away to a quiet and peaceful place of remembering. Thank you.

  7. By Lauren @ In the Pudding Club on October 28, 2010

    What a calming post.  And I have to say I too was amazed at the transformative powers of a baby and a pomegranate.

  8. By on October 28, 2010

    What an enchanting read this was. As a Southern California resident, I’d love to know where this is, since it provides views of both the ocean and desert. :) It would be wonderful for a weekend hike.

  9. By Sarah Christensen on October 28, 2010

    I should clarify that I’m not talking about the far, far desert.  The mountains get in the way of that.  There’s a large area that is very lightly populated that is, as far as I’m concerned, desert.

    For those of you who are so-Cal residents, I highly recommend some high peaks in the Angeles or Cleveland Forests - you’d be surprised how far you can see on a clear day.  There are plenty of options, including Williamson and Baden-Powell, that will give you spectacular views of the desert and mountains.  On exceptionally clear days - or right after a rain and wind storm like we had here recently, assuming nothing higher is in the way, you will also be able to see the beach.  There are also places off Ortega Highway nearer the Lake Elsinore side that will give you AMAZING views of natural landscape, city, beach, and desert on a clear day.  Again, I’m not talking saguaro cactus desert, but trust me, Ortega is a great place to start off.  I’m a little wary of giving away my specific place on the Internet because it’s near my home, but you can also find several beautiful canyons/arroyos that have simple desert views like what I mentioned here.  Arroyo Sequit in Malibu is beautiful, although you can’t see the desert, you can see a good chunk of coastline and the city views are fantastic.  Lower Arroyo Seco is nice, although the views aren’t quite the same quality.  I personally prefer Upper Arroyo Seco in the Altadena area, but when I tried taking Charlotte up there last it was closed, so I don’t know whether or not it’s open again yet.  It’s nicely wooded, lots of water (there’s one waterfall that is TO DIE FOR beautiful), and if you hit the hills you’ll have some beautiful views down toward the beach, into the city, and into the mountains.  Not so much in the way of desert, if memory serves, but it’s been a couple years so you might not want to hold me to that.  A shorter hike might be Trabuco’s Arroyo, which again doesn’t offer much in the way of desert, but if you can get farther into the peakline north of Caspars, you’ll get some great ocean/desert views.

  10. By Rin on October 28, 2010

    :)

    This sounds like the most lovely morning.
    You write so beautifully.

  11. By Molly on October 28, 2010

    Ah, I love the way you love your Charlotte.
    Beautiful girls, beautiful post.

  12. By Dallas Divorce Lawyer on October 29, 2010

    This post makes me want to wake up early and take a walk with my children. Every day is not promised and days like this should be cherished. Your blog is a good mothering handbook.

  13. By Heidi on November 11, 2010

    I just had a conversation with my mother-in-law yesterday about how pomegranates are more trouble than they’re worth. :)

  14. By Heidi on November 11, 2010

    Oh, and I love the subject matter, simplicity and craftsmanship of this post. Thank you. I needed a little afternoon pick-me-up.


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