you really can’t go back

CantGoBackSunset Reflection Before the Full Moonrise @ Abbotts Beach, July 2016

The height of my week with grandchildren in tow at the cabin is planning for Tuesday, the full moon.Tonight will be the Buck Moon.  They are here with me with their two best friends – four kids ages 6-10. We stop at the Bear Valley Visitor Center to get Junior Ranger nature guidebooks for each, and they pick out sketching journals to write about observations in nature this week. We spend the morning observing a nest of three osprey chicks ready to fledge, weed the side yard of our cabin, and watch for various bugs and birds. I talk up the Abbotts Lagoon Trail on the schedule for the evening hike and fuel them up with hotdogs and full moon facts. We gather flashlights and jackets for the hike to the sunset-moonrise. I am so excited to share this with them after several near-spiritual experiences in this monthly natural event myself. I so want to go back and share the awe and joy of a sunset-moonrise with them in this special place. They race ahead on the trail as I chat with my niece who has stopped by for the night to enjoy the hike, campfire, and pick up a loaner bike for her move this month up to UC Davis for college. The pack of wilder-younglings are rolling down the sand dunes by the time we reach the bridge to the beach. I encourage them to follow me up the largest dune to see the sunset that is quite a bit farther north than I realized. They grumble at the climb, interrupted from their romp in the sandy dunes at hand. As we hike up a sign and rope designate that the dunes are closed due to snowy plover nesting. They get prickers in their feet, we never get to see the sunset, darkness gathers around us in both exterior and interior ambiance. I am disappointed that I have disappointed them after such a long hike, and they grumble as we walk back until they discover a makeshift seesaw assembled from a large round log and long rough plank at the base of the dunes. Scrambling onto it to balance, experiment, and play with this new attraction unearths a unique pleasure. I photograph in bursts to show them the time-lapse later this week of their exploits. I smile at how they  discover their own delights and natural ways to make this place special. I swat away clouds of mosquitoes with my hat in the dusk hurrying back along the trail, far ahead they are spooked by a skunk in the dark (fortunately she does not spray them!). We have not yet seen the full moon and it is already dark. When I photographed it before in mid-winter, the moon rose conveniently over the dip of the lagoon as the sun set in the open breach of beach between obscuring arcs of dunes. In summer it rises further north obscured by high arcs of dunes during sunset. Finally as I approach the parking lot, the moon rises in darkness through the cleft of hills beyond the marsh. Later around the campfire we roast marshmallows for s’mores to their laughs and taunts about the skunk, the dunes, and the seesaw, reminding me that even in familiar places, we are always going forward to a new place in the now.

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