Monday, July 1, 2019

ZONKED: Torrey Pines Revisited

Maria T. Groschup-Black
Fat Man’s Misery – Revisited

Photo by Craig Groschup
About 7 years ago, I took the boys hiking at Torrey Pines State Park in the San Diego area of California. The park is located along the Pacific shoreline and supplies some of the most spectacular views in the area. It is a park full of history and ecological mystery, where a coastal - desert scrub landscape collides with the beach and where it is host to the uniquely indigenous Torrey Pine tree.

Time marched forward without my permission and the boys are now in their mid-teens. They are well on their way to that certain place where teenagers reside, between the Mommy years and young adulthood; A place where their undeveloped sense of self collides with burgeoning manhood. OOF!

Isaac is nearly 18 years old, determined to prove he is independent and self-sufficient. Nathan is soon to begin his sophomore year in high school and looks forward to drivers’ education. Austin is set to begin his freshman year and is already counting scholarships before they’ve hatched. Each is unique in his own way, and yet all are united in the singular goal that is “to make the adults crazy.”

A recent event made me determined to create experiences within our family that would renew and heal relationships. We started with our first hike of the season - a return to Torrey Pines. Our boys were less than enthused and grumbled the whole time. Isaac and Nathan even had the obligatory shouting match right there on the trail, for all to witness. The park hasn’t changed much and neither have the boys.

We began our hike from the bottom; a short hike from the lower parking lot, along the sand and surf to the trail "end" where it lets out at Bath Tub Rock. The boys claimed to have no memories of the original hike 7 years ago and were quite interested the the "bath tub." 

Unfortunately the tide was high and the tub inaccessible.  Isaac  took interest in the fossil beds, but was more attentive to Uncle Craig's explanations than to those of dear old mom. Any wisdom I had to impart fell on deaf ears.  Nathan just wanted to plug along and get done with the hike so we could return home, and Austin seemed content to follow the trails without interference from the siblings or adults.

The trails were still kept neat and accessible; and Fat Man’s Misery remains a memory. But thanks to a bountiful winter season, summer blooms were abundant and vibrant with bright yellows and purples that drew the eyes away from the ocean view and instead to our coastal desert scrub, an often overlooked aspect of the park. 

Those with an alert eye were fortunate enough to see an osprey perched on the cliff surveying the waters in search of prey.  Though not rare in this region, the osprey seldom rests in plain view and is magnificent to see. 

I like to imagine that the osprey was there solely to bring back the sense of wonder that once delved in the heart of a child. That the strength  and bearing of this watchful creature was symbolic of something bigger; but I'm not even sure they saw it lurking above their heads. Such is the rush of all things "family" - to be endured by teenagers so to humor their adults.

For all their squawking and "lets get this over" attitude, a shift began to occur.  For as of this writing, the boys have asked for more. "When can we go on another hike?" "I have to work that day, can we go the next day instead?"

To hike along trails, woven through an ancient land, weathered by ages of time that seem to stand still, is a wonder when set beside the wink between 7 years ago and now. Here are flowers and trees so resilient that a decade of drought could not defeat. Here is ancient history at our footfall. Here is time - precious moments in time - meant to heal the heart and spirit.

 Here, in Torrey Pines Revisited, begins a return to family.