Posts Tagged ‘the natural world’

When we went to Six Flags, the weekend before last, we also visited the ocean. Unfortunately, the camera’s battery was completely dead, but J’s phone took some rather decent shots.

(Last weekend was our four-day camping trip with the redwoods on the coast, so you’ll be seeing a lot more photo posts for a while. We took over a thousand photos last weekend alone.)

I love driving through the green hills of northern California, I tell you what.

Driving In California

The Hills Are Alive

We went to Point Reyes, where the sea is angry and the cliffs are high.

Point Reyes Seashore

Looking Down from Point Reyes

And we saw some ten or so tule elk from the road.

Tule Deer

Day 27 is my favorite place.

As usual, I don’t have a singular favorite, so I’ll pick one from the list of my most-loved places: Eureka, California.

Eureka is in the north, about two hours south of the Oregon border, and right along the coast. It’s not so much the town that draws me there but the entire area. The northwest coast, the land that stretches from Eureka up to Seattle, Washington, is incredible. It is gorgeous in a way I didn’t know existed until I saw it myself.

Eureka itself is nice; it’s the perfect size for me, big enough to have convenience and options while staying small enough that people still look you in the eye and run indie shops. The Old Town quarter is fantastic and full of nooks and crannies that cradle awesome things, like a little gourd kalimba that kept a part of my heart after I played it. The temperatures are wonderful, ranging from 50-80*F throughout the year, with plenty of rain and mist from the ocean.

But the land around Eureka is what’s so wildly magical. The redwoods reach to the sky like columns holding up the planet’s roof; beneath them, the air is still and silent and somehow sacred. Fallen boughs and trunks can be taller than you and me, and it would taken half a dozen people to link hands and wrap arms around a standing tree’s base. Moss and ferns grow everywhere and make everything a lush green, and wherever the sunlight is blocked from the canopy, the ground is covered with natural debris in the midst of composting into soil. It’s so quiet away from the roads, some combination of church and library and empty mountain peak. I felt so young among these trees that are a hundred times my age.

And the ocean, oh, the ocean. Not only are these incredibly green forests everywhere, not only does the wind smell of brine and mist, not only does the land rise in fall in voluptuous hills, there is the ocean with all its wonder. The water’s very cold almost all the time, so far north, but it licks at the sandy shores regardless of how many toes it’ll numb and how many children will go shrieking away from the surf. There are innumerable hidden crevices along the coastline, inlets rimmed with rock where other people don’t go, where there’s just sand and seaweed and shells and surf.

I fell in love with the land, and the town of Eureka, as soon as I first saw it. And I am still in love.

Day 23 is something that makes me feel better.

Afternoon sunlight through the leaves, making dappled shadows. Sprawling somewhere soft and lazy, listening to the wind and breathing the warm air. Being surrounded by four cats and a dustmop of a dog, at least some of whom are purring like rusty lawnmowers. Music fingerpickin’ in my ear and folksy voices singing old tunes.

Brisk air in my face, the windows rolled down, the road thin and curvy through the mountains. High slope on one side and drop-off to the other, no other cars around, the engine drowned out by poundingly loud music that draws shadow and water out of the air. Capital-d-Driving, braking just right to get the bite coming out of the turn, exulting into each straightaway.

Perched in a high place, body molded to the rock, looking out over the world. The wind high and thin and chill, all human noises fallen away below the treeline. Sun-warmed stone and treacherously-shifting dirt, a misstep a sentence to fall halfway to the sea.

Brine in the air and gulls on the wing, sand hot enough to making walking hasty, coarse and unstable beneath bare toes. The sun brilliant and the wind strong, the water ear-ringingly cold. Surf and foam and water-darkened shoreline, the layers upon layers of ocean that reach inward and numb the feet. Sunsets that take forever.

Working up a sweat with a knife or a stick or just the body, testing flexibility and precision and pain tolerance with each technique. Demanding better from a fellow student, forcing him to hone the moves until flexibility doesn’t matter and the technique just works. Panting, arms shaking, legs weak, but not tired. Learning and practicing and actually improving in tangible, acknowledgeable ways. Finding security and joy in these abilities, this knowledge.

Hands restless on goatskin, pounding out rhythm that the brain doesn’t know but the body feels. Fingertips plucking at soft strings until nerves go numb and the notes come clean. The vibration of vocal cords, singing like pouring colored ink from a kettle, having no idea how it works but loving that it does. Feeling the music in the belly and in the head, meeting in the chest, and being consumed by everything the melodies summon and manifest.

And far, far more than just that, but if I tried for a comprehensive list, I’d never stop writing.

Day 17 is my favorite memory.

I don’t do singular best-ever favorites. Really. I am not that linear. So I’ll pick one of my favorites, and perhaps share others later on.

When I was seventeen, in late spring, my sister‘s parents invited me along on their family vacation to Ocean City, Maryland. Having not seen the ocean since Myrtle Beach in South Carolina when I was itty, I eagerly agreed. They were incredibly generous and insisted on paying my way, for which I am forever grateful, as I couldn’t have gone otherwise.

It was unspeakably odd watching the land flatten slowly as we left my beloved mountains behind, but the bridges once we got near Chesapeake Bay were amazing. We stopped at Fisherman’s Inn on the bay, where I had my first taste of cream of crab soup, which became one of my favorite foods that I can get nowhere else. We also saw a few wild ponies on Assateague Island in passing, and I put my toes into the surf for the first time in years.

I was struck then, well and truly, with the ocean’s magnificence. It attracted me like a magnet. My sister showed me how to move with the waves, not stand against them, and I spent the next hour doing the exact opposite of what she’d said, lunging at each wave as it rolled to meet me. I was sent tumbling a few times and surfaced with wild laughter, while my sister shook her head and her parents eyeballed us from the shoreline.

We stayed in the Carousel, an amazing hotel right on the waterfront, which enabled us to have convenient night-time beach walks. We strolled the boardwalk and found dozens of hole-in-the-wall shops, bought little trinkets and toys, and generally cavorted around.

It was easily one of the most formative experiences in my life, and certainly the highlight of that year.

Day 12 is a photo post!

(Day 12 was actually not included in this meme. So I made this part up.)


The following are recent photos from our August trip up to Seattle, Washington to see J’s brother take (and pass!) his blackbelt test in southern-style kung fu. The first three are from coastal Oregon, which is a place where we would very much like to live someday. The fourth photo is from Discovery Park in Seattle, and the last is from I-5 N going through inland Oregon towards Seattle.

This is Nevada.

It’s a high-altitude desert, with plenty of mountains. The Sierra Nevada Range, to be exact.

There are waterfalls hidden in the hills.

In some places, the sun shines golden emerald.

There are rocks to climb. (That’s my J.)

Trees still reach for you, even in the desert.

This is where I live. It’s pretty nice.