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There is a hidden jewel on the central coast of California called Montaña de Oro State Park. In English, it would be translated as Mountains of Gold State Park, and in the spring that is precisely the image that comes to mind as the poppies come into bloom and cover the bluffs in brilliant orange overlooking the Pacific Ocean. For ten years we lived just a few miles away from this gorgeous corner of earth, and I logged thousands of miles running the park trails. It became a kind of sanctuary for me.

In celebration of the first day of spring, here’s a poem I wrote about the unique beauty of these mountains of gold as I experienced them, accompanied by beautiful photos taken by  my wife Dallis! The poem was originally published in our area newspaper, The Tribune, in April, 2010.

These Mountains of Gold

If you stand here
and lean against the sky
you see a field of poppies
stretching toward a distant blue,
their golden petals outshining
even the morning sun.
In these mountains of gold,
black tailed deer graze in glory,
snowy egret stand in serene repose,
regaling you in their white gowns,
and choirs of chaparral
chant ancient anthems
rising from an ancient sea.
If you stand here
this place becomes a temple
and clothes even you in awe.

Words (c) 2012, Mark Lloyd Richardson
Photos (c) 2012, Dallis Day Richardson