Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Black Birds

Ancient Egyptian lore has it that when a black-winged bird soars across the Nile at sunrise and returns at sunset with a snake in its talons, then the harvest will both be blessed as Osiris rising and as bountiful as Isis in all of her fertile ripeness. Or at least this is what I remember from the replica burial chamber installation at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, CA. Or maybe that was from inscriptions on the mummy sarcophagi. Or maybe I am just misreading the runes on the fiberglass replica of the Rosetta Stone.

Or maybe I’m confusing the info in the museum with our stop in Pinnacles National Monument (since this is California, you’re allowed to say it with a Mexican accent -- “Peanucles”). A singularly beautiful park and one of the few places in the world where the California Condor is released into the wild.

Or maybe I’m getting the details mixed up at the Egyptian museum with those of the Mission San Juan Bautista – a Spanish mission founded in 1799, and site location for the dramatic climax of Hitchcock’s classic Vertigo. I don’t know. All of these details are making me dizzy.

But I do know this. At Mission San Juan Bautista we sort of stepped back in time long enough to marvel at the daily toils and ingenuity of our predecessors. We also liked the modern day antiques stores in the town itself, which were (probably) once cowboy saloons and bawdy houses.

And I do know that at Peanucles we saw a lot of big black birds. And we’re pretty sure some were condors. Then again it had been a long day and we are by no means experts in the field of bird watching. We congratulated ourselves nonetheless on seeing some condors (though, if you saw a bird through a pair of binoculars, have you really seen it?), then headed south through the flower-carpeted hills of cow country and made the haul across the Central Valley to Three Rivers, CA, gateway to Sequoia National Park and the homestead of my brother Phil and his family.

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