I can feel it coming…

When friends visit California for the first time,  they always have some preconceived notion about what it will be like: everything is like Baywatch, or we’re all running around in fear that today will be the Big One, or every street looks like 90210 or the Castro during Gay Pride Week. Whatever it is, they never know that they have no idea about the breadth and variety of what our state has to offer. They are always surprised at how wrong they were, and if they spend enough time, they learn what us long-term residents already know: California is beautiful in too many ways to count, and that the diversity defies easy categorization. After all, we created Nixon, Reagan, the Grateful Dead and the Summer of Love! Not exactly peas in a pod.

But one thing we don’t really have is the four distinct seasons of places like the Northeast. I tell visitors we really have only two seasons: a short dry brown one with a long green wet one (when rainfall is high), or, as has been the case much more frequently lately, a short wet green one with a long dry brown one. Oh sorry, the hills aren’t brown, they’re golden.

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I’ve been hiking to get me and our Bernese Mountain dog Geneva some exercise. Today, during my hike in the Pearson-Arastradero Preserve I could feel it. This last weekend, the family and I traveled up to Seattle for a wedding (Congrats Nick and Jen! We had a wonderful time and we’re so happy for you two. About time too!) The storms that so screwed our travel schedule were long enough and wet enough that the water didn’t just wet the dust, run off and disappear. It soaked into the ground. All that dormant grass awoke. Seeds germinated, sprouted shoots and started to send them skyward. While the fields I was walking among just looked like rained-on dead grass, the ground felt different.

As I hiked, I started to notice hints… The sides of the dirt roads over by Felt Lake were green!

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Grass by the side of the hiking trail was sprouting.

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In a few days, I’m sure the turning will be in full swing. I love this time of year.

When I lived in Rochester, NY right after grad school, the time of renewal was spring. The cold, hard winter was over. That really crappy time when the pristine white of snow was gone replaced by frozen mud and dirt that turned the snow brown really depressed everyone. But it was still too cold to do anything fun, and all the plants still seemed dead. Walking to my car in the mornings in March it was best to avoid eye contact. Everyone had been inside with the same people for too long, and it showed. Faces were hard, glances were unfriendly. Pretty much everyone was fed up with everyone that they had to deal with all to often, with no escape with the sub-zero temperatures that abounded. But then the green shoots of spring would start to arrive, with warmer temps, hope and best of all, the opportunity to get out and meet new people. In Rochester, springtime is called Festival season. It seems that every weekend, little towns all over Upstate New York would have some festival or another. Rochester, the Flower City, would start to bloom, the humidity wasn’t oppressive,  and people would smile once again.

It seems to me that here in the Bay Area, that feeling is most noticeable now, in the fall. Now is when life renews.

I can feel it coming, and I love it!

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