From mountains to grapes

Ridges above the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River, seen from Exeter, California

Ridges above the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River, seen from Exeter, California

My home town in California’s San Joaquin Valley is Exeter, west of Sequoia National Park. When we moved there the town prided itself as the Emperor Grape Capitol of the World. Now as then in the fall, vines are heavy with grapes. They will be picked, packed and sent to markets worldwide.

In April the air is fragrant with the aroma of orange blossoms. Outside of town are miles and miles of green–orange trees, fruit and walnut trees, grape vines all bursting with life.

The thing that allows this to happen at all: water from the deep snowpack in the Sierra rising to the east. As the snow slowly melts it fills the rivers that empty onto the fertile lands below. Canals send some of the water directly to farms. Other water seeps into the soil to replenish the Valley’s vital groundwater from which more is drawn.

Seen from Exeter, the hills rise in waves, first grass-covered, green in winter and spring, golden in summer and fall. Next come ridges clothed in thick forest, rising to the broad open slopes of alpine peaks above. In winter these gleam white with snow.

In sixth grade, on clear winter and spring days before school and during recess periods I would gaze at those snow-covered peaks as I swung high on our tall east-facing swing sets. On some weekends my family would drive with me and some of my schoolmates to the toboggan slopes in Sequoia National Park. We had a blast rocketing down those slopes!

Later, during and after graduate school I was blessed to ski and snowshoe in the quiet beauty of these snow-covered mountains, spending six winters at a ski touring center. On extended trips with friends, we spent days in the snowy back country.

How can I account for such blessings? I can’t. They have been freely given, regardless of my own assesment of my worthiness. It’s beyond comprehension–but it’s true! Thank you, God.


About David McCoard

After earning my MS in geology I've done various things including managing the ski touring program at a small lodge in the Sierra. In 2010 I retired from Contra Costa College in California. I've always been fascinated by the mountains and nature and have spent countless days hiking, backpacking, climbing and skiing in the Sierra. The spiritual insights I've learned there have set the course for my life. Now I have time to share them and strike up a conversation.
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