Wildflowers and Mom

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There has been much hype about the super bloom in the California desert this year. But you don't need to splurge on a trip to Anza Borrego or Joshua Tree to get a spectacular view of wildflowers right now. The East Bay hills will do the trick.

All this rain has created a natural canvas in our very own backyard: blue-eyed grass, Mariposa lilies, Indian paintbrush. Golden poppies blanket the hills around Mt. Diablo, but they're also popping up through concrete median strips and freeways on-ramps.

I'm partial to this East Bay bounty. I'm a native, too. I grew up traipsing -- sometimes trampling -- the hills along the 880 Corridor: Berkeley, Oakland, San Leandro.

My Mom would drag me and my sister, usually eyes rolling, to walk the Labyrinth at Sibley, plow the stream trail in Redwood, or run through the meadows at Tilden.

In 1986, when we lived off Golf Links Road near the Oakland Zoo, Mom forced me out of bed at 3 am to see Haley's comet. I begrudgingly went along then, but of course I relish the memory now.


The East Bay trails are where I find my Mom.

Even though she still lives in her San Leandro bungalow of 25 years, she can't be found there anymore. Not really. Alzheimer's has taken her away, steadily, in slow motion.

So outside is where I go to be with Mom - the damp earth and pungent eucalyptus, a comforting presence that she can no longer provide.

My family and I live within walking distance of the Huckleberry trail now. What I'd give to walk its mile-loop with her and my two children today. Huckleberry is known for its narrow path lined with Pacific Madrone, a tree that I learned recently is "a delicacy for mourning doves."

The perfect place to mourn loss, but also to celebrate life.

With a Perspective, I'm Karina Moreno.

Karina Moreno works for a San Francisco-based non-profit that fights poverty in the Bay Area.