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My brother first took me to this spot a year after the fires hit close to our home in Yorba Linda. The brushfire that struck our neighborhood in October 2008 devastated all the vegetation and trees. Years later, and the dry branches are still burnt black.
It always starts off on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon while home for the weekend. Usually our grandma is busy tending to her garden in the backyard or preparing dinner in the kitchen. Our mom is upstairs winding down in her room and Pops is somewhere in his office, strumming away on his guitar. The rare instances that we aren't all together - we like to try and 'explore' what we can in the hills and quiet suburbs of Yorba Linda. While the Santa Ana River runs parallel to the 91-freeway, it does not offer much to the eye. It's usually always dry. Either way, we found this location hidden at the bottom of our hill. It earned the nickname 'The Basin' because it's tucked away and surrounded by a sea of trees (and five-bedroom houses). It offers an escape from the humdrum of SUVs, sports cars, and angry high school kids that rev their engines up our hill.
But here at The Basin, anything goes. You can skip a few rocks at a portion of the Santa Ana River that actually has a stream flowing through it. Or you'll find remnants of where a group of teenagers had a bonfire with footprints of a guy and a girl's shoe still left in the sand. And at the center of it all, is The Tree. Or as my brother and his friends call it, 'The Tree of Life.' With its outstretched branches and a sea of pebble rocks in front of it - you can stand in the midst of it and feel so small. For once, something so large stares back at you as you struggle to crane your neck to see its entirety. If you walk closer, you'll find a beast of a stump that now rests on the ground. It's embraced by the dirt and the bugs around it with initials of previous visitors etched into its bark. There's an abundance of stray sticks left around, perfect for makeshift swords. Hours later, and it's always a race to make it back home.
CREDITS: FEATURING JORDAN ABAPO PHOTOGRAPHED BY DIANE ABAPO LOCATION Yorba Linda, Calif.