A true story about a hiking the hills of Orange County, California.
Rattlesnakes and cacti, this was my wilderness. I often grumble, and frett over this arid oven called home.
“Brown is the new green,” said the banners hanging across shopping malls.
“Take ten-minute showers and save water,” said the commercials.
“Remember the drought,” said my mother when I’d water the plants.
“How can anyone forget the drought?” I’d say, “it’s eighty-degrees outside, and we’re in November.”
Today, I climbed the hill over-looking my small city. Sweat gathered on my forehead. Sometimes, I dream of other places where yellow and red leaves litter the sidewalks. A place with white winters where snowflakes fall on the palm of your hand. Instead, autumn was blistering hot and, occasionally, I’d catch a glimpse of snow on the peaks of faraway mountains.
At the hilltop, I dug into my shorts pulling out a cellphone. Sunset was a few minutes away. Below me, at the summit, there was the grocery store, the café, and the gas station. Houses, apartments, and condos stretch to the horizon and, in the distance, a highway and mountains.
A breeze struck my shoulders; goosebumps crawled across my legs. I chuckled because only here was sixty-five-degree weather met with shivers, elsewhere it’d receive a warm welcome when compared to blizzards, floods, and storms.
Thunder roared behind me. The coming clouds were thick, black and grey. “Prepare for the thunderstorm,” said the weatherman.
I tried to recall my last thunderstorm but was unable to think of a day or even a year; soon my attention focused on the sunset.
Although I’ve seen hundreds of them, I still savored every pink hue, each purple streak, and the golden ring emanating from the sun.
I grinned ear-to-ear because as much as I hated this arid home of mine. In my heart, no sunset anywhere could compete.