California, to me, has always been a tall, crooked shape on the map with two states balanced on its head, several more states poking into its ribs, and the Pacific Ocean on its back.
THEN we drove through it.
We stumbled off the plane in Las Vegas at 2am, a bit bleary, got our car and drove to a new gas station south of town. This new gas station has, I am not lying, 96 gas pumps. Here we took a nap.
“Times a-wasting!” I hissed at Marnell a few hours later. We took off, grabbed breakfast, and drove into California.
Oh, oh, oh! Forgive me as I rave.
What is California?
California is desert hills strewn with sage brush and entire trains lying across the worn sand of vast valleys. (We don’t see a whole train at once where I live. We watch them go past car by car.)
California is snow-topped mountains and acres and acres and acres of sand-colored houses packed on the north side of Los Angeles, some reddish, some grayish, some tan, but all the color of the desert.
California is deep gorges, cute tunnels, impossibly high bluffs, and a baseball diamond on the cliff above the Pacific Ocean.
California is white-capped waves destroying themselves on jagged rocks below our restaurant window and a sweet tattooed waitress telling us that it’s shark water right now because of the extra rain.
California is indescribable acres and acres of vineyards spread over the hills like pieces of checkered tablecloth. California is endless rows of strawberries, enough for everyone in the nation (it seems to me) to have a piece of pie.
California is hillside after hillside that look like the folds of a shower curtain, or the ribs of a giant mammal.
California is neon green hills speckled with black cattle.
California is cattle on steep slopes, not falling off.
California is a house built on the very top of a hill overlooking the ocean.
California is barren hills, some with lonely scraggly trees, some covered with wart-like bushes.
California is miles and miles and miles of fruit trees blossoming in the central valley, and boxes and boxes of bee hives to pollinate them.
California is rain and rainbows. We’ve seen four rainbows in two days!
I felt as if my heart received an overload of beauty and I was going into a kind of congestive heart failure of the soul… and that was before the sun really came out.
“Maybe,” I said to Marnell, “the Midwest is just the most boring topography in the entire world, and so we just aren’t used to having nice scenery?”
He said something about flat land being practical, but he loves the scenery too.
And then the sun came out!
Oh, isn’t this photo below splendid, even if it’s from a moving vehicle? I declare that little black calf on the left is looking right at me.(The photo I refer to is a brilliant yellow-green field scattered with beef calves under a blue sky with white clouds. Behind the fence, a small black beef calf appears to possibly be looking up at the camera.)
Anyway, now it’s business at the writers conference, and little time for updates. Yesterday’s class was excellent.
Thank you so much for your helpful emails describing what you look for in my blogs. I haven’t had time to reply to them yet, since we’ve been traveling and I had a full day at the conference AND since we don’t have a decent photo to send you for the exclusive shot from the West Coast!
I just addressed 20 post cards, to the first 20 responders with feedback. Since I don’t have permission to post your names, I’ll just say this. If you DON’T live in Pennsylvania (Port Royal, York, Manheim, Shippensburg, Mifflintown); Indiana (Odon, Goshen, Bremen, Argos); Virginia (Aroda, Dayton); Hubbard, OR; Brooksville, MS; Conrath, WI; Monterey, TN; Chester, MA; Congress, AZ; Traverse City, MI; Mt. Perry, OH; or Wyandotte, OK, you didn’t make the 20 postcard people. But as soon as we get a good shot, I will pass it along.
Also, if you meant to email and didn’t, you can still shoot me an email at Katrina@500-words.com, and I’ll add you to the email photo list. Just tell me why you read this blog.
Have a great day!