Sometimes, for me at least, it’s easy to get bogged down in the sprawling stripmall–esque nature of Bakersfield. Sometimes the dry, dull colors of the desert, even when the beautiful mountains can be viewed on pollution-free days, are a bit depressing. At least for me and Dave, two people raised in colorful, well-watered grasslands, forests and lakes. Even the river that runs through this town is just a dry bed. But sometimes I think it’s too easy to compare everything to our ideal, homey version of beauty and comfort. And as the sun shines in Bako after the rain came for a few weeks, it’s becoming a little difficult to ignore the natural beauty of this over-developed, oil-field of a town.
Having two dogs who take extreme joy in any kind of walking, especially the kind where they don’t have to wear their leashes, is a great excuse to leave your house and actually get in the proximity of nature as it exists nestled between suburban developments. So, on a Monday afternoon, we took to the riverbed, and got off our Midwestern high horses to admit that even the dry pastels of the desert can be really beautiful in their way. And appreciating greenery is actually somewhat easier here, since anything budding and blossoming is working extremely hard in less than ideal conditions. Any old flower can grow in rich, black soil with rain and lakes and snow melts and rivers flowing regularly. But on the dry, sandy bottom of the Kern River there are yellow, pink and orange flowers looking their most fabulous despite drought conditions. There are shells, empty houses of former water creatures, scattered everywhere in the sand and gray trees that lost their battle with thirst years ago, and even those dusty skeletons take on a certain beauty when it’s a no-work weekday that you can spend walking with your dogs and your David.
And a walk with your boys and your girl, in addition to bringing you closer to nature, can do wonders to lift your spirits. No matter what city we live in, no matter how lucky we are to have friends, a backyard and good Mexican food, we are still far away from home. You get homesick, a bit blue, a bit desperate for familiarity. But all that can wash away, can seem irrelevant, when you’re walking, breathing fresh-ish air, seeing the smiles on the faces of your dogs and solving the world’s problems all in the span of an hour.