It's strange to come home. Strange to be climbing the golden, rolling California hills in my little Protege, watching the golden oaks slip by and the mazanita creep up the hillside. Sliding higher until the ponderosas take over and the scent of bear clover wafts through the open window.
I packed a bottle of red wine and a blanket and took my little, silver touring car four-wheeling a couple of weeks ago. I bumped down an old logging road past the last of the late-spring lupin and tumbled granite -- high up on the side of a mountain where I could look out over the undulating pine-covered range and breathe real, fresh air and just -- be. Sure there's scratches all over my new car's doors from the overgrowth along the trail's edge, but it was worth it.
A few days ago I tagged along with a friend to a little mountain town where they hold a world-famous annual frog-jumping contest. We visited some friends of his and drank a few beers. And it hit me. I haven't climbed an oak tree in at least 10 years.
So I stripped off my sandles, saddled my skirt up around my thighs and mobbed the first tree I found with a crotch low enough for me to hop into. My friend said I couldn't do it. Thirty feet up, I looked down at him and asked if he still thought I wasn't strong enough.
Don't ever come between a mountain girl and her oak tree.