Painting by Walter Georis / Carmel
Oh, California, I can’t quit you. I’ve tried to leave. I’ve left once. I’ve said I was leaving. But then a day like I just had comes up and I know, I can’t leave you. I can’t. I wrote the original version of this post BC (before Covid) and it’s even truer today.
San Jose isn’t on the coast, but our greater back yard is this. The crashing surf of the Monterey peninsula, the craggy beaches, the bent Monterey pines, the smell of the sea–just a short ride away. And a pleasant one. Close enough to have lunch and come back. I was lucky enough to live there for a few happy years and the surf there still sings to my soul. I miss this so much and am grateful I was there just before we sheltered in place.
Everything grows like a dream here. You should have seen my garden when I lived on the coast…and the elaborate drip system we set up so they would stay blooming fresh, even when I traveled. Our plans were to return in April to see the ice plants in big bloom. Instead, we sheltered in place and watched our own flowers bloom.
Cheerful daisies grow in abundance in California. I always think of my mother; they were her favorite flower. Everyone thought she was cheerful, too. But we knew better. There were unplumbed depths. Still, when I see daisies, I see her. (They have a place of honor in my own garden of course.)
Pets are revered on the Monterey peninsula, most places offering water bowls for the many dogs that accompany owners on strolls in Carmel or walks along the six-mile-long oceanfront recreation trail. This kitty lives at a winery in Carmel Valley. Well-fed and attitudinal. I was hoping to have my big birthday party there in fall of 2021. When I took this picture it all seemed possible and probable. I wonder if people will be gathering then.
The same winery has chickens and lots more of them than these. It’s all, well, ambience. This kind of life has my kind of vibe. I love the chicken in Maui, too. Yes, another place we planned to return to this August for our annual trip. It seems doubtful now, though.
And then, the charming little bistros and restaurants on the Monterey peninsula. Sure, some of them are overpriced and too impressed with themselves. Pretentious. But some are worth every penny and others are actually affordable AND wonderful. The charm. When you live there, as I did, you learn the difference. And to be patient with those who haven’t. I remember our lunch here and how I was careful to wash after reading the menu. Covid was just starting to appear here.
There are vineyards in Monterey County, and wineries. Good wines. They aren’t all good wines and sometimes the ones priced highest are not the best. Then again, it’s a matter of taste. And sometimes, pretension. Sometimes, people mistake cost with quality. Not always true in wine and in life. Tasting rooms in Carmel Valley are some of my favorite. I’ve spent a lot of time in them because my ex worked in one. We ordered a couple cases of wine early on. We’re enjoying them slowly, at home.
The air is different here. Maybe that’s why flowers and plants pop out in masses of glorious blooms. I know that I bloom here and in a peaceful way. I’m happier here. I am definitely a happy Californian.
It’s expensive to live in the middle of all this in California. Taxes are high. There are many logical reasons to leave and I revisit them periodically.
“Yes, it’s expensive to live here,” my husband said on our visit. He looked around at the ocean, the blue sky, the sun, the flowers. “But I consider it the price of admission to all this.”
I raise a glass to him and to the beauty of my state. And to our wonderful Governor, who is steady and firm as he leads us through this crisis.
California, I can’t leave you.