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a portal of time

By Tony MartelloPublished 25 days ago Updated 25 days ago 5 min read
Superblooms in Central Cali

Today, the grasses smell like they did when I was an undergrad: like juicy fruit gum, like Californian sagebrush, and a warm walk in August.

The Santa Ana’s slither in through these hilly ravines, expanding their breath over the terrain and breathing on my hair like a mysterious cat stalking prey.

The crickets abound must have hollow legs that rub together and reverberate melodies in a rhythm that puts you to sleep on a Sunday night.

Memories of drinks and more drinks used to keep me sleeping until 9:00 or 10:00 am. Today, when I wake at 4:00 am, I produce most of my work while many Mustangs sleep.

This earthy fragrance emanates from the Sage Brush scattered across the chaparral. Back then, I recall picking the buds off the green scrubby plant about waist high and rubbing them together vigorously in the palms of my hands. Each of us undergrads would pick the top of the shrubs, sniff for the unique odor, and share our best idea of what each plant smelled like.

I blurted out, “This one smells like Juicy Fruit gum to me.”

Amber, the brunette with long hair cascading down to her knees approached me and offered me some of her already been chewed gum.

“Want some?”

Her appeal was undeniable, but I think it was the black Dock Martin’s (at the time I thought they were army boots) that threw me off. I was attracted to her but simultaneously intimidated by her power. She stood curvy, confident, and cunning. With glowing amber eyes, her name suited her perfectly. She was a biology major but had the rare gift of illustration as well. Her colored pencil drawings were more beautiful and educationally effective than any textbook images we were required to study. The day before she showed me a sketch of a panther chameleon blushing yellow, blue, and red. It radiated with incredible eye appeal and spoke vicariously through her to me.

Bring me your dull woes and I will illuminate them, beautify them, and breathe life into them.

Dull woes could be anything like boring textbooks, monotonous lab write-ups, or mundane processes. How was it that she at age twenty, could transform the world while I was searching for truth and accuracy? Her philosophy of experiencing life freely through your five senses (and maybe 6) was overwhelming to me. Two weeks prior, after a twirly sand grind session surfing Sand Spits, I hiked back to my truck and found a note:

For a sensational meal with wonderful adventures, call 805-541-7471.

The note had a familiar writing style and cool little images of reptiles: horny toads, spiny lizards, and brilliant raptors. It was signed, by your secret admirer, XOXO. I couldn’t get myself to call because I was overwhelmed, I guess.

Today, if I was single, undoubtedly, I would’ve accepted her invitation. Interestingly, my wife has similar traits that accompany Amber’s curvy, confident, and cunning qualities. They even share a similar body style with cascading lustrous golden hair.

So now, I put on my board shorts, jump in the Olympic-sized pool, and swim lap after lap in a fabricated fashion. It is so predictable and organized, but so refreshing as the waters in this pool quench me every day.

Consciously, I continue to swim lap after lap, turning and twisting my lumbar with each breath. One, two, three-breathe-on the right side. One, two, three-breathe-one the left side. Mini stitches keep popping up in my muscles. I focus on introspection. Stretch through these stiff spots- you must keep moving these parts of your body. I stopped at the side of the pool where the lifeguard was sitting and recalled Priscilla sitting high on the tower during my desperate squeeze of twenty to thirty laps in between classes. Her blond hair flowed down over the red jacket that was ceremoniously issued to her by the society of lifeguards. I remember her asking me where I was taking her on our next date.

She gazed downward and inquired, “Playing pool at Osos Street Subs was fun. Where are we headed next?”

I reflect in memory about the opportunity to pull a red shirt on her but was too much of a wussy to stress people out in public. My fantasy couldn’t have been cheesier than the once common show, Baywatch where silly simulated scenes are fabricated in every episode. I spat out the remaining water while hanging on the poolside and replied,

“I can’t tell you where yet but bring your bike and meet me at Bubble Gum Alley on Higuera St. tomorrow at 1:00 pm. The fog should be clearing by then.” The irony of Bubble Gum Alley is that it couldn’t be farther from the pleasant smell of Juicy Fruit mystic blowing in from the Carrizo plains. The last time we visited the Plains we were in a super bloom. Brilliant colors of yellow, purple, orange, and blue were radiating from every angle. I envisioned a giant Carrizo Cat with blooming flowers and fur prancing through the valleys and over the foothills to visit our blessed town. On the contrary, Bubble Gum Alley smelled of rancid ABC gum with thousands and thousands of chews pasted on the walls of the alley. Now, it just doesn’t have the same appeal as it did back then. So, I took Priscilla to "The Mountains of Gold" with California poppies abound and wild waves clawing the shores. We rode our bikes along the trail on the edges of the cliffs that zipped through the Central Coast beaches. We stopped at one and had a picnic and marveled at the waves crashing on the jagged triangular reefs.

Back then, I couldn't appreciate these blooms as much because I had the pressures and deadlines of academia hanging over my head like a constant drip of the sink, reminding me that something needs to be fixed and adjusted and that many things must be attended to and put on a calendar. Knowledge fills our heads, and we must be hopeful to be useful, and apply little bits to our daily lives. Now, I can appreciate these times and savor the Santa Ana winds, and enjoy these super blooms with their color. These moments I cherish so much more knowing that nature invites me to spend time with her.

spiritualitytravelself careliteraturelistlifestylehumorbeautyaging

About the Creator

Tony Martello

Join an author like no other on various tales that entertain, philosophies that inspire, and lessons that transform us. He is inspired by nature, the ocean, and funny social interactions. He is the author of Flat Spell Tales and much more.

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    Tony MartelloWritten by Tony Martello

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