A true lie?
children, relatives and precious friends
I cannot build on doom the whole day long. There is wise, even for sceptic seers, it was suggested by world authorities like Dalai Lama, to take some time off, to aspire to some good time. It is true that you can’t never know ahead when and that the stealth Murphy wolf maybe stalking your’ unaware self when you expect less. But a famous anti-Murphy law says that he cannot hit continuously everybody, everywhere. I think that the general relativity too goes in this direction. When that vacancy, from anguish and despair, occurs you can expect and even get fun, relieve, relaxation, eventually joy and if you are born lucky, bliss. About this kind of blessed adventure in a family frame, which should not often be felt like a kind of harness only, especially by a vagrant like me, and has some positive aspects too, leading sometimes to an elated state, I would like to report to you.
When my son EE suggested that my perennial visit to his place in California should be preceded by a reduced crew, he and me, excursion to the Lassen Volcanic Park I didn’t go into a state of uncontrolled enthusiasm. Comparative to other legitimate attractive sites such as deltas and ice fields, famous temples and castles, lacustrine settlements and desert oasis, inflated museums and plush opera house, open markets and ruined modern cities, murderous favelas and superb Japanese gardens, centennial forests and breath taking canyons, which I missed, I had indulged into volcanic territory enough for one’s life run. I was going nevertheless to accept the gift, it is forbidden to discourage outbursts of good will, when I had a stroke of genius. A strike of sorts… It will be meaningful, I proposed, that my grandson K. a six years old very complex buddy and actually the only name bearer from a set of five, will join the party. The move was a conscious one being aware that his presence will conspicuously reduce my importance and project him naturally on the spot of the decision maker of the expedition. Totally insensitive at the catastrophic loss of three or four school days K. joined the bandwagon flashing joy and enchantment. I didn’t know then that I drew a winning card, but gamblers are supposed to be unconventionally alert and intrinsically sensitive or look for another trade. The endeavor was baptized the Three Rolling Stones journey to Lassen Volcano; it assumed for the kid but also for his companions the value of a initiatory quest and it provided me with exceptional insights upon a chthonic activity which falls only short of a planetary disintegration and which is accompanied by a spectacular combination of colors, matters and enormously astonishing, aggressive biological presence. Alleluia, it is time for the Haendel’s Messiah or else!
A true lie?
The serious things began the next morning. We decided to go to Bumpass Hell, the most spectacular area in our range. It came out that Bumpass was a miner and a guide who led a party to the spot in 1865, did a wrong step, and had one of the legs, I do not know which, badly burned by the devilish hot, acid substance hidden under the thin crust. Amputation followed. People generally used the indicated lanes or raised wooden passages, kind of catwalks, but I have seen some imbeciles bravely going in the forbidden areas. Nothing happened THIS time so we headed for the Visitors’ Center. Here I want to make a note. I wish that all the public servants (except the Japanese) in the world will be American National Parks Rangers. They are kind, knowledgeable, like to work with public and love nature. Off the record? They never bark! Too many qualities for a single brand of people? Well, nobody is perfect! There were two paths leading to Hell, an easier one closed and a very difficult one, open. After that he weighted us and considered us thoroughly, my grandson and I, by a quick, sharp and encompassing glance the ranger said that it is highly inadvisable for us to go. (You see? They know their trade, as I told you!) Nonetheless, we left deeply offended and after a short consultation decided to give it a try. On the way we admired some volcanic lakes, I remember a superb one called Emerald Lake proud of the exquisite green of its finely quivering surface. The effects were produced by the same burning substances that hurt poor Bumpass which were oozing through the bottom’ vents from the hell’s core into the lake. What makes the misfortune of one…etc. We had, especially the boy the pleasure to encounter large snow covered areas that survived the summer. They were not pristine white, but with so many earth pores around continuously belching smokes, fumes and heavy loaded steams you cannot ask for more. And then we hit the trail. It was quite soft and flat, idle meandering through some open areas and through some wood covered one, innocuous and peaceful with the exception of some mighty trees, many, a lot of them, brutally cracked trunks, which had fallen across the path (I will tackle the subject later) and which were carefully sectioned by the brave rangers to permit an effortless progression. And then I felt the young boy hit by boredom and incertitude. With the courage of despair I step forward and told him flatly that giants came out the sky yesterday and cut gateways through the mighty trunks purposefully to assure his journey. He hesitated for some milliseconds and then I remarked a twinkling light dancing in the corners of his eyes. He opened the arms to emphasize the gate wideness and eventually the giants’ enormous bulk and decisively turned forward to continue the march. Notwithstanding being a kid raised without a TV set and more accustomed than many to accept a fairy tale fabric he didn’t believe for a second that I am seriously speaking. He read the message correctly as one of support, friendship, complicity and love. He got rhythm and advanced mostly alone without complains into trail which was becoming more beautiful and more difficult any moment. The path was steadily mounting, at times softly and sometimes sharply. It offered enthralling views of mountainous lakes covered by shivering and mirroring semitransparent veils, of multicolored flowered wide green, purely organic, carpets; of proud pines’ spires pricking the blue vault, when not broken in parts and going back to earth through a nice rotting natural transfer and of furiously twisted and contorted, far reaching, not very friendly, knotty apparent roots that could grab your ankle any moment. Some rivulets cut the trail here and there, sometimes so clean that you could drink without to be transformed into, let’s say, a boar, like in a fairy tale, and sometimes so murky that after a while my shoes became very much similar to old dirty sponges who nobody wants to buy them on the market. Quite suddenly the vegetation rarefied and changed, the trail widened and we reached a stony plateau from which a quiet and fairly long declivity brought us to the caldera. It was worth the pencil of a Delacroix. Only a romantic painter with deep interest in acid colors, stark mineral surfaces, dramatic chthonic processes, weirdly stained rivulets and alien looking plants, skilled to load realistic strokes with theatrical effects can attempt to produce a caldera landscape. As far as the devilish smell of rotten eggs is the matter one has still to bring his body on the site and rely on his own nostrils. Despite its fairly compact size this stupendous caldera offered a rich menu of volcanic attractions including geysers, mud boiling pots, sizzling, thick water small lakes, high rising fancy fumaroles; red, yellow and gray and even green tinted rocks, and a wooden raised catwalk that brings one in the center of the Bumpass’ Hell at safe distance of the pale, treacherous, soil crust which bespeaks of ignominious death. It is a worthy place to meditate upon life and I did it for a short while concomitantly with being intensely thrilled by the view and worried by the idea that I will have to trot on hurting legs some three or four hours back. K, totally reassured by the presence of his mighty, strong-armed father, who was by now ready to carry him on his shoulders till the end of world, was lightly and daintily progressing to the target, read car, he reached without any help. He was happy to reveal himself despite his light frame or because of it a hiker and a companion and we deeply partook the feeling with him. It was a moment of BLISS, the three of us experimented quietly and silently and had the feeling that something precious occurred and most of it will stay with us for long. Time was ripe to look for some inoffensive footwear to stick my bloody legs inside (the nails of the little toes fell only after) and find a spot for some very hungry people. It came as an American Pizza, if you know what I mean, but in the high spirits we were we felt that we can tackle everything with glee and some Indian Pale Ale (for the adults). The rest of the company fancied coke. The act was slightly reminiscent of Moses’ division (partition) of waters and we felt elated to be somehow related to that ancient great man who unfortunately peddled a set of rules totally at odds with the true human nature. In memoriam….
A true lie?