One of those moments

Perhaps my favorite memory of California is the night sky. My grandparents live about an hour out of Sacramento, and a couple hours out of Tahoe. The lights of Sacramento are a dim smudge of light, more a pastel swatch than actual light.

Out in the hills below the mountains, the sky is black. There is nothing to vie with the stars except the moon, and the trees. On a moonless night, the starlight is bright enough to walk by…or sometimes, to read by.

You see, there’s this thing called the Milky Way. We don’t see the Milky Way back here. Out in California? A god’s handful of diamonds scattered on black velvet wouldn’t be so thick, so rich as the Milky Way.

The last night I spent in California, I went out with one of my two best friends and met his new girlfriend. A lovely evening. Coming home, along the road lined with silvery manzanitas–and manzanitas in the dark do look like silver dollars on red wood–I remembered the magic of California nights.

It couldn’t have been more than 30 degrees. It was that snapping cold that only comes on clear winter nights. Dressed in high heels, biker-chick jeans and a leather jacket, silver jewelry flashing in the moonlight, I parked the car and started toward the peak of ‘my hill’.

The hills on my grandparents’ property are rippled, a ridge which supports dozens of fingers. Only one of the fingers is completely bare, on our property. It overlooks the house, the barn, and the valley pointing towards Sacramento. That’s the hill I used to watch sunsets from, and the first, lightning-ridden storms of autumn.

It’s my hill.

The grass, dry and crackling with ice, chilled my feet rather easily through the boots. My heels kept sinking into gopher holes. Not the best outfit to be hiking cross-country in.

There’s a circle, on the face of the hill. The grass is short there. No reason, it just is. Maybe that’s one of the graves the Maidu left there. But that’s where I’ve always sat.

Perfectly clear sky.

Perfectly silent night.

Perfectly bright sky.

There’s a lot to say about getting there. There’s even more to say about after being there.

And yet, every ‘one of those’ moments, it seems, is indescribable. It’s just a moment when nothing happens.

Maybe that’s why its so good, because there’s nothing but ice and ghosts and wind. And, of course, the stars.

It was just one of those moments.


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