I enjoy the serenity of Descanso Gardens. I go there often and sit on the ground, usually in the oak forest. It puts me closer to the earth. I like to feel the decayed leaves and smell the ancient earth, whose remnants of humus and mold are products of the circle of life, replenishing the very soil I sit upon.
I sit with a book and paper and pen and transcend to another dimension as I imagine indigenous peoples, the Tongva, living in the garden before the Gardens. I smell their smoky fires and hear the dull pounding of mortar and pestle as they grind acorns.
Descanso Gardens was a major hunting area of the Tongva. Archaeologists tell us that the area has been inhabited for more than 9,000 years. The abundance of oaks, each potentially yielding 1,000 pounds of acorns, fresh water cascading from the hills, an unlimited source of firewood, and protection from the adjacent mountains tell me that Tongva Indians camped here.