The decision to write when I feel like writing has caused quite the quiet blog here. But just now, on a Sunday afternoon, I began to feel the itch to write. Graduation at the school I worked at occurred this afternoon and despite the light fog and chill, it was a beautiful ceremony, as happy as any graduation can be. It was a joy to see families from around the country and world dressed in beautiful traditional or non-traditional attire, cheering for their loved ones. Nearly every graduate wore an orchid lei, surely a tradition originating from the Pacific islands that has spread to California.
The summer fog has begun to appear here. Just 3-5 miles inland though, traditional summer heat has arrived, and just 100 miles inland in the central valley of the state, temperatures are beginning to reach 100 degrees for the first time this year.
A couple of months ago, I explored Pinnacles National Park, the closest national park to me. It was stunning and a great time of year to explore as the wildflowers were in bloom and it was very green. The park includes tall cliffs and low caves left behind after a volcanic eruption 23 million years ago.
While on one of the tall cliffs with a group of University of Vermont spring breakers (my Boston red sox cap sparked the connection!) my hiking partner identified a California condor overhead! They're very endangered but Pinnacles is one of the few locations where they can occasionally be spotted due to a breeding program in the park. It was tough to say if the bird's wingspan truly looked to be nine feet across, but it was majestic to see if overhead. Since visiting, I've been thinking about how much I would love to return to Pinnacles soon.
May and June are some of the busiest months of the year for my job but I'm looking forward to returning to New Hampshire for a short while in July. Approaching a year here, I continue to find this part of California to be breathtakingly beautiful, friendly, interesting, challenging, and not dull. I also find it to be incredibly "discovered." It's known and loved and there are an abundance of visitors, wonderful places to visit and dine and socialize, and a high cost of living. I feel so fortunate to be here now, to live among such beauty. I think often of New Hampshire, whether asked about it or when I let it naturally cross my mind. Beyond thinking of it as my home state and a place familiar and lovable and missed, I think of it as small and quaint, underrated and not discovered. I feel pride when I think of the state, the seasons and nature, and driving its roads. Recently, a woman I was speaking with described visiting the state once in winter and how unbearably cold it was. It's true, but after speaking with her, I found myself thinking back on winter nights. Of snow falling softly, headlights illuminating a quiet road dusted with snow, golden light streaming from homes and businesses, piercingly cold air that wakes you when you step outside and icicles hanging. I don't think it's homesickness when these memories arise, but I think they're memories, temporary longing, appearing to show me what I haven't seen or heard or felt in some time. I hope they continue.