White space–not

On the map the amount of white space is remarkable, so close to the Los Angeles Basin. Highway 5 runs south from Bakersfield, out of the fertile Central Valley where there are numerous towns with their red dots and names crowding each other and confusing the reader. Just over the Tejon Pass, still ahead, there was, of course, a foreboding chaos of metropolis. I had just been thinking that this relatively blank area we were coming to was that way because the soil must be too poor to make irrigation worthwhile. Evidently there isn’t water for residential development, either.

Then I glanced up from my map study, and saw not white space, or even the brown tumbleweeds I expected it to represent in reality, but the most brilliant purple and orange swaths of color spreading out and away for miles of flatland, on both sides of the freeway, wildflowers that take advantage of the lack of roads and suburbs, make the most of the small amount of winter rainfall, and turn the brown expanse into a stunning display of God’s lavish strokes. B. said it looked like a computer-generated photo, because the colors were too bright to be real, and you could not get the third dimension; from the distance and elevation from which we were speeding along, the flowers looked all the same height. And there was nowhere to stop and take my own photo! I’ve looked online for pictures and they are all taken in the hills closer to the pass, but this one shows the species of flowers we were probably seeing, California poppies and a kind of lupine.

I’ve been through this area before and seen the spring-green hills covered with flowers of many kinds. You can see photos at http://www.caopenspace.org/tejon.html or http://www.tejon.com/ . In our family, we love maps. But they can only show you so much!

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