We drove to the poppy fields in the middle of the week, knowing most of them would be dead in the heat and drought of early spring but both needing to get out of the city, feeling the strain of working from home creeping up on us. We left in the late morning and there was no traffic getting out and away, the scenery quickly changing from cityscapes to brown, dry desert mountains.
We haven’t spent a day together since we both lived in New York, so many years ago now, but it felt easy slipping into the old routine of thrifting and photographing and taking turns talking too much about our current set of woes.
The poppy reserve was sadly brown and empty, little yellow buds closed up against the sun. But across the street—on private property, the old women running the ranger station told us—there were north facing hills covered in bright orange blooms. We drove up a dirt road and parked behind a line of other cars that all had the same idea as us. Over here, a small chunk of the landscape was an almost-too-good-to-be-true wash of color.
We took turns lying in the spaces between the plants, careful not to trample anything. On the way home I pulled a beetle out of my hair and let it fly out the window.
It was exactly the right amount of color and light and desert sun to recharge and reboot. I went to sleep exhausted, seeing orange when I closed my eyes.