Long ago, in my younger years, I used to go camping (almost) every summer.
My favorite camping grounds were scattered throughout the Eastern Sierra Mountains, from Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks to Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite, to Lake Tahoe. It was impossible to pick a favorite among those as they each have their own unique setting and atmosphere, and I enjoyed them all. They were my quick escapes from the bustling world, and I always came home from those camping trips with a fresh perspective on things.
It was thus an easy decision some years ago as I started writing Once Upon a Mulberry Field that my protagonist, Roger Connors, should be from that area. Besides getting to live vicariously through him in that paradise on earth, I also thought it might be interesting to watch how this young man who had grown up in such serene environment would manage to cope with the turbulent changes of the sixties and the brutalities of the Vietnam War. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch from reality since back in the days, like Roger himself, young men of all different backgrounds had been ripped from their familiar surroundings and expedited to the front line overseas.
On a less somber note, if you have read Mulberry Field, would you have guessed Roger Connors to be a man with a few lines of verse in his heart? I would maintain that that’s quite plausible, given his sensitive nature and the breathtaking element in which he had grown up. Do you suppose the following short poem might have occurred to Roger on one of his backpacking treks through the Sierra wilderness?
Under the Evergreen*
In the shadows of green mountain ranges
Where the winds of time etch out slow changes
By a tumbling stream on its lifelong quest,
The weary traveler has come home to rest.
Ashore sunny lakes with lofty pine trees
Where mirrored blue skies shimmer in the breeze,
Dream happy dreams among dancing flowers
As soft clouds languish above stone towers.
In the bright dawn over alpine meadows,
With the morning mist whirl away sorrows.
Simple joys and hopes from long gone summers:
To eternity flow gentle rivers.
Free as white birds on the far horizon,
The soul awakens: new spring has risen.
* Copyright 2014 by C. L. Hoang