Cherry Valley Manzanita

by Len Hawkes
(Beaver Dam, Utah)

In Utah we don't have Manzanitas. When I first went to work at Camp Cherry Valley on Catalina Island, it was one of the first shrubs to catch my eye. We had one growing behind the dining hall and I encountered it daily. But my favorite Manzanitas grew down along the Nature Trail close to our "Chapel" area. They sprawled along the hillside with their hard red wood and I would feel their smoothness as I came down along that trail. Later, an old Finnish fellow named Karlo told me that Manzanita wood was cool to the touch, and whether it's true or not, it did feel cool to me and we Scouts would even put our cheeks against the large branches as we worked in the hot Catalina sun.

When I left Cherry Valley, one of the last things I did was visit those Manzanitas to "spiritually" say, "goodbye." I know that not everyone feels for trees as they would for pets or friends, but I can honestly say some part of those Manzanitas remains with me still these many years later. In my mind I clearly see how they sprawled along that dry hillside, scantily shading us as we felt their cooling branches in the Catalina sun.

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