The blazing sun was unforgiving as I powered my way through a meager bottle of Dasani, only to sweat it out by the next turn in the steep trail we were following into the hills. Meanwhile, Atha was bouncing ahead with a boulder of a backpack on her shoulders, pointing out every poison oak bush I was in danger of falling into. Clearly, one of us is a seasoned child of nature while…the other is steadily working on it.
We eventually found ourselves submerged by low-hanging foliage where we shrugged our bags off (and I unstuck my shirt from my back) and began shooting. The air was rippling with pollen and nostalgia, the sharp scent of menthol wafting down from peeling eucalyptus trees. It didn’t quite feel right, though. I wanted Atha in the characteristic hard sunlight and brown barley of Cali’s hills. I wanted fresh air.
So we sweated ourselves out of the forest and up to a sun-fried hilltop, where we played out an old-school, all-American scene, soaking up the electric yellow and cobalt blue like a thirsty watercolor. The sunflowers, untrimmed stalks and fuzzy inflorescence, the oversized Levi's denim and a hint of red flannel, the sweat and vitamin D. These were today's summer ingredients, ones that helped make our hilltop excursion more colorful and, well, golden.