“All that glitters is not gold.”

That famous quote kept going through my mind as I walked into the autumn meadow that was painted in the golden hues of late afternoon sunshine.

The tips of the flaxen grass were glittering like an overflowing treasure trove of pure gold. The greens of spring and early summer had long since faded, replaced by beauty gold cannot buy.

I was hiking on Palomar Mountain when I pushed through pines and oaks into this lovely meadow. Gathering clouds were bringing a chill, but the setting sun was holding out as long as it could.

I was near the end of my hike, but could not resist the urge to just pull up a rock and sit for a while. Beauty like this should be mentally stolen and kept as long as possible.

What better place than this to enjoy one of my sit and see adventures, where I spend at least one stationary hour simply watching and learning about the natural world around me.

I was married in this beautiful meadow. On a cloudless spring day, my lovely Kati was carried in a white, horse-drawn carriage as I waited under a magnificent old black oak tree. Lupine and golden poppies dotted the meadow and at one point our guests had to dodge a rattlesnake who decided to join the festivities.

Those memories filled my head as I quietly sat to drink in this scene. I could even hear the delicate, crystal notes of the tiny bells that we had tied to satin ribbons and hung from the branches of the oak tree.

Suddenly those memory sounds were replaced by the whoosh of wings as a flock of wild ducks landed in the nearby pond. It’s quite amazing the amount of noise they make when apparently they are reverse thrusting while landing in unison.

This is wild turkey country, and it wasn’t long before a flock came walking through the meadow. Several paused to wallow in a dusty area, apparently taking some kind of dust bath. Soon, they had caught up with the others and the group was no doubt moving to the safety of their nightly roost tree.

I gobbled, and they gobbled back.

Silence returned to the meadow and for a time all was still and quiet.

As the sun began to play hide-and-seek with incoming clouds, I caught a movement to my right. Crouched in the grass not more than 50 feet away was a bobcat watching me. He obviously knew of my presence long before I spotted him, but he didn’t seem alarmed.

In fact, he sat there long enough for me to get out my cellphone and take a video of him. Apparently sensing this was not a meal opportunity, he slipped off into the tall grass. I’m sure he was on the trail of a fresh turkey dinner.

As afternoon shadows grew long, ground squirrels were busy doing what they do. Much of the time, they seem to enjoy just occupying the top of boulders and gazing out over the meadow. Maybe they were also mesmerized by the beauty, but more likely, they were watching for danger.

Danger arrived and it was spectacular.

There is a large pile of boulders on the fringe of the meadow and I almost let out an audible gasp when a bald eagle swept in and landed on the tallest rock. Such a proud and incredible animal. Despite his beauty, the squirrel lookouts sounded a chattering alarm and they all dashed into underground burrows.

What an incredible sight, but it only lasted moments, as this huge bird spread its wings and simply glided from his perch and sailed off, perhaps to seek an evening fish dinner at nearby Lake Henshaw.

My sit and see hour was over. Actually it lasted nearly two hours.

As I left the meadow, I realized indeed, all that glitters is not gold. This golden vision was far more valuable.

Email ernie@packtrain.com or visit erniesoutdoors.blogspot.com.

Ernie and Kati Cowan’s Will Valley Wedding