Craig Sewall

My Backyard

I startle awake to the all too familiar Motorola jingle of my cell phone that doubles as an alarm clock. I have grown to detest that song, that noise that has brought me so many rude awakenings. In a state of semi-consciousness I gaze at the digital clock on my desk; 6:45 it says, and the little dot representing PM is not lit up. I think to myself, “Why on earth am I up this early on a Saturday?” In a bitter-sweet manner I lay my head back down on the pillow, bitter because I should have never been awakened at 6:45 AM on a Saturday morning, but sweet because I can continue to sleep for at least three more hours. The moment I am about to drift off to dream land once again I remember why I set that alarm in the first place: I had planned to go hiking today.

Still in a state of semi-consciousness I practically fall out of bed and start getting ready. I skip taking a shower because when you’re going hiking at 7:00 in the morning with no one else, what’s the point? I grab a backpack and stuff it with a couple of water bottles, a few snacks, some sun screen lotion, a journal, and a Bible, the essentials.

Once I am ready to go, I grab my gear and head out the back exit door of Emerson Hall. I breathe in the cool, crisp morning air and I feel a kind of rush come over my body. I am fully awake now. As I head off towards Montecito Peak trail I lift my eyes up to the mountains. The morning fog adorns the peaks of the mountaintops like crowns as the tan, sandstone rock forms dots amidst the mass of emerald green plant life. I am humbled as I stand in awe of this beauty, thinking to myself, “All this in my backyard!”

After a short walk along the road I reach the trail. I step off the asphalt onto the firm dirt path that winds itself up the side of the mountain. Though the trail is steep, windy, and at times confusing, I pay little attention to my aching muscles, dry throat, and growling stomach. The soft babbling of a brook in the distance and the occasional call of different birds fill my ears. I have become a child again as I turn over rocks, look at bugs, and stare at amazement at a spider’s web as it wavers in the wind and flashes bits of light that it has caught in its web.

A few hours and a few snacks later I reach Montecito Peak, the pinnacle of the mountain. The city of Santa Barbara to my right, the cities of Carpinteria and Summerland to my left, and Santa Barbara Island in front of me, I gaze through squinting eyes at the Pacific Ocean. The light from the sun shimmers and sparkles across the top of the deep blue water and the oil rigs look like underwater skyscrapers poking their rooftops out of the sea.

Here, at the top of this mountain, there is no anxiousness about upcoming papers and exams; all the worry about what I will do in the future melts away with the morning dew. The busyness and hustle-and-bustle of the city are not here. Here is tranquility, peace, and beauty. As I sweep my eyes from left to right taking in this beautiful scene, I whisper a prayer to God, “Lord, you are Good. You are Beautiful. Thank you for sharing some of your beauty with me this morning.”