When I was taking a creative writing course many moons ago, we had contemporary writers visit the class about every few weeks or so. One gentleman stood out to me, Ted Kooser, he said people always asked him where he got his ideas from for poems, his response was always “Just look up.” Of course those questioning him would give him a funny look, with the appearance of misunderstanding, so he offered the challenge, “Notice six things each day, I mean really take the time to stop and SEE them, you would be surpirsed what you have been missing out on.” His words still ring through my head every time I take a walk, ride my bike, or, like this weekend, when I dropped the top on my Miata and cruised through wine country, cutting up over the Sonoma coastal redwoods to blow kisses to the Pacific on Highway 1. The funniest thing awaited my passenger and I, to our surprise when we pulled off the road to take in the sunset on the water, we heard the thumping and bumping of drums. Only one other person was at this stop, literally right off the beaten two lane concrete path, and in tow was his truck and a drum set. Now I am fully aware of the time and dedication it takes to set up a kit, being a drummer myself, so there was definitely some work involved and possibly some engineering on finding a flat spot to set up said drumset. Yet there he sat, bump, thump, thumping as the sun sunk slowly behind the water, and I thought to myself, “Wow! Brilliant! Gutsy! (it is the rainy season) I have got to try this!” I wanted to give him a high five, but I couldn’t disturb the artist heavy in his craft.
We put the top back up to break the chill and stopped off the road again for Mexican style seafood, crabcakes, crab enchiladas, and fish tacos-likely the best food I will ever have the pleasure of eating in my lifetime, of course seafood and Mexican-how could you go wrong right? Driving back wasn’t all that bad, given it was half the drive of getting to the coast, I took every windy wooded road I knew of to get there. I still day dream about the redwoods towering above me, finding it difficult to follow the road since the top was down and my eyes were on the trees. There is a whole world out there that we never perceive because it isn’t in our eyes’ view. I have never found so many mushrooms until last week when our class went mushroom hunting–it’s not that they weren’t there in the past, I just wasn’t looking for them. I had such a crazy time just driving through the coastal mountains and vineyards and I can’t stop thinking to myself, what if I didn’t go? Think of all the things I would have missed, the drummer, the sunset, the fall color of the hidden vineyards and the barren trunks of the grapevines who were in the heavy wind’s way, the lichens growing in the trees and blowing in the breeze, and all I had to do is look up.