Through a stranger’s eyes

November 2, 2010

Californians who visit Florida for the first time seem to have the same first impression: “It’s so flat!”

That’s because California life is bounded by mountains that stand guard over us, day and night. Some of us hike in them, others ski in them and yes, some of us live in them. But at the very least, we all see them as we go about our daily business.
When I first moved to northern California in 1984, I lived in Los Gatos. Every day I’d drive around a little hilly bend on Blossom Hill Road. At night, through a break in the trees, I’d catch sight of the sparkling lights of the Valley below and for years, it never failed to take my breath away. It looked like fairyland.

Growth and development have blocked my special view. But I remember that magic when M (who’s always been a flatlander) points out his own favorite views of the mountains. I get it.
Mountains at night are magical. The Santa Cruz Mountains dotted with lights is like another world out in the distance. I imagine people going about their lives up there. Carrying in some logs and lighting a wood-burning stove. Pulling boots on and getting the dogs ready for a hike. Clearing brush. Loading up the SUV with something, anything.

Life in the mountains is different and one of the great things about the South Bay is that people have an opportunity to live a rural life just minutes from a big city.
If you’ve lived here a long time, the magic’s probably gone. All you can see is the traffic, the population density and all the hassles of life in a big city. I get that, too.

It’s always been hard to see much that I like about my hometown, Rochester, NY. But friends who have been there always comment about its beauty. Seeing it through their eyes, I, too, reconnect with how lovely it is, especially in fall.

What if you could see your city through a stranger’s eyes? What kind of beauty could you reconnect with?

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