My original intent in last week’s column was to try to capture the Zen of “The Garden Before the Gardens,” a festival this weekend sponsored by Descanso Gardens. I became enthralled in the history of the Tongva, the earliest inhabitants of the Verdugo foothills. Their connection to the land and the spirit world gives them a sense of place that lingers throughout greater La Cañada. I wanted to tell their story.
Tongva settlements called Tujunga, Cahuenga, Cucamonga, Azusa, Pacoima, Hahamongna and Topanga encircled present day La Cañada. Our only account of their presence is from the journals of the Spanish padres.
My research involved reading and walking the trails of Descanso, channeling the presence of the Tongva. However, my inspiration came from James Walden, a writer, thinker and friend. Walden, a mythologist, frequents the paths of Descanso. He is a storyteller who inspires the listener toward wonder.