Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Day in the Santa Cruz

I was drawn to California by so many things. I was entranced by flying in and out of SFO in the fog. Take off and landing always seemed perilous with runways projecting into water. The smell of the air, the palm trees, the mild weather, the ocean, the redwoods, the wild life, all beckoned. I had lived a good life in Chicago, riding my bike on the lake front, going to college and working downtown, dancin' and living large with the homegirls. But California made me want something different.

Each visit brought a new experience; a hike in Muir Woods, driving scenic roads such as Devil's Slide, Skyline and 280 that provide stellar views of the bay area, and visiting the many beaches along Highway 1. Wildlife abounds. I've seen several species of lizard, snakes, newts, a wide variety of birds, deer, fox, coyote, bear, bob cat and mountain lion. In Chicago, sightings were limited to rats, racoons, seagulls, pigeons and the occasional deer. I did once see what looked like a crawfish on the rocks at the lake. But in the years I've been in CA, I've seen dolphins, whales, octopus and lots of little critters all while walking on the beach.

Last weekend we decided to make a vacation day. We went down to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. While only a fraction of the rides were in operation (take note if you visit in November), the sun was shining and lines were short. After a few rides, we walked the beach from one end to the other and then walked to the end of the wharf. At the end of the pier are viewing areas that allow for observation of the sea lions that lounge under the pier. There had to be over a hundred of them. We got a veggie burger and fries and enjoyed the gentle breeze. On a whim, we headed to Natural Bridges State Beach to check out the migrating Monarchs. As we slowly walked the path, bunches of butterflies could be seen hanging on the tree branches. As we approached the observation deck, several hundred butterflies could be seen fluttering in the treetops. It was the perfect way to end a perfect day.

We returned to our car and were home in 25 minutes. That's California Dreamin'.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Life is Good

While the rainy season started with a dousing, the weather has been sublime over the past few days. I've planted assorted lettuce and carrot seeds in hopes that the sunshine will make up for the late start. Picked many lemons yesterday, the poor tree is laden and needs a good pruning. I've never done it before but will try in the coming month.

I grew up in Chicago and took my first trip to San Francisco in January 1998. I swore I move someday but the opportunity didn't arise for many years. I was walking home from the train station late one night. It was snowing heavily and there were few foot prints. It was a lovely sight but I heard a small voice in my head say, "life sucks." I left before the following winter.

I enjoy being outside. I walked frequently in Chicago, even in snow and rain. I appreciated the beautiful gardens, quiet streets, peering in storefronts after hours but after many years, it was old. Some have told me that they couldn't live in a place like this, a place where it is warmer and sunnier through the winter. They like the change of seasons, they say. I like the change of seasons, too. Summer is warm and dry, with cool fog frequently found on the coast. Fall begins sunny and cool with blue sky over the ocean and ends with rain.
The Earth responds. Roses, azaleas and other flowers begin to appear. Winter brings more rain, cloudy skies and just enough occasional sunshine to sunbath every now and again. Tapering off, the rains carry over to the spring and wildflowers abound. For the observer, the seasonal changes are clear.

Down the street a maple is changing. Color dots the S
anta Cruz Mountains on a canvass of lush green. The smell of pine fills the air. Birds flit from one tree to the next, chirping gaily while cuckoos squawk in the distance. A hummingbird zips close to the window as I sit here, reminding me to put up a feeder. A horse whinnies down the road. Life is Good.