Notes from California, Part II

There are a few things about California that are simply in my blood. While I have lived in the Northwest now for over three years, (and for the most part, really enjoy it) there are just some things about northern California that I will never get over missing.

In seventh grade, I had a history teacher who told us that this place was the only place in the world that has this climate, and that things grow here that won’t grown anywhere else. At the time, the miracle of that escaped me, but now I know how right she was. For anyone who doesn’t already know, northern California and southern California are basically two completely different states. The south is L.A. land, with the picture-perfect, flat, white beaches, hot days and nights, celebrities, and an inversion layer that creates the thickest smog ever. The north is San Fransisco land, much cooler and foggy, with rocky, cliff-like beaches, very cold oceans, organic farms, vineyards, Redwood forests, and lots of water. This is where I was born and raised. There is something about the sunlight here, somthing about the mountains and the fog. Nowhere else on Earth will you find California Redwoods, lush cooling fog that rolls over the banks of the Santa Cruz mountains each afternoon, and dappled sunlight shining through trees that stood at the time of Christ (in your backyard!).

DFM and I play this game; when we are watching something on TV that is filmed in California, we can almost always tell where, just by the color of the sky and the way the sunlight falls. Maybe we are crazy, but we are usually right, when the credits roll. There is no logical explanation, other than the sunlight is in our blood.

I miss the way the breeze picks up each afternoon around 2, no matter how hot the day. I miss the lovely, thick blankets of fog rolling over the mountains that divide the Bay from the Pacific ocean. I miss the Redwood trees as big around as my living room, and their lovely furry bark that is impervious to fire (did you know that?). I miss the smell of night-blooming flowers and jasmine that are everywhere. I miss six-foot redwood fences that give you privacy in your backyard, no matter how close your neighbors are. I miss the smell of the ocean, and the sound of crashing waves. I miss the taste of salt on my lips, and the wind whipping my hair around as I drive down Hwy 1 south of San Fransisco.

What I don’t miss is the impossible real-estate market where a simple condo goes for over $1/2 million. I don’t miss having to wait over an hour to get a table at a half-way decent restaurant. I don’t miss crabby people who don’t have time to smile because their lives are so busy and important. I don’t miss people flipping me off for driving 75mph in the slow lane, with my kids in the car. I don’t miss my 45 minute commute to get less than 10 miles. I don’t miss the competitive nature of life down here, where even the preschool you send you toddler to has to have status. I don’t miss shopping malls the size of entire towns in eastern Washington. I don’t miss needing two incomes just to pay rent, and I don’t miss having to consider day-care because I had to work outside the home to pay that rent. I don’t miss the pressure of having to have more. More of what? Oh, more anything and everything. I don’t miss lines everywhere you go. I don’t miss crowds at the grocery store, the farmers market, the parks, campgrounds, national parks and restaurants. I miss my family; I don’t miss all the other people.

But I do know why they all want to live here.