July 18, 2011

Sonoma and Sierras

The shouts of our triumphant rejoicing eclipsed the rumble of traffic as we crossed the California border. We think a Californian must have drawn  up the state line. They allotted all the desert waste land to Nevada and the second we crossed the border we were in the pine forests of the sierra mountains.

All I could do was stare out the window (and did for the successive three hours). I stared at the gray knobby rocks and the tall pine trees and the way the mountain-side floor drifted and dipped and rose and felt wafts of familiarity wash over me.

We drove over the mountains- and at one point we got out and looked at the green valley below- pine trees as far as the eye could see- rising again on the distant mountains. The sunset made them golden. I'd forgotten how beautiful Northern California is. The light was familiar. The trees were familiar. And oh, the sweet smell of pine- so familiar I wanted to cry. I found my mother's arms- "We're home."

The first two days we spent with very, very old friends. Our families had gone camping together before I was old enough to remember- but I do recall my sister and I playing with their oldest son and the day we went to the wharf in San Fransisco and I thought there was a snake in the hold of one of the ships. We had a wonderful time of fellowship together- talking about theology and culture and health food (they make home-made pickles and sour-kraut and kombucha- which, by the way, has won me over and I now thoroughly enjoy). Their eldest daughter and I took a walk and we talked about how the Lord had worked in our own lives and in those in our families.

It was a singularly odd sensation for me- to pass houses full of plants and landscaping modes  (wood chips and cement types) I hadn't seen in ages, yet with each tree or scent emotions and sensations and hints of not-fully-realized memories flocked to my brain. I almost couldn't think- I felt drenched in a nostalgic goo.

We are at present at my grandparent's house in Sonoma county- wine country. My grandpa gave us a tour of their complex (telling us funny stories- like how the bridge players have to wave their arms in the air to keep the motion-sensitive lights on) and we visited Jack London's estate and Luther Burbank's place (he cross-breed plants to develop 800 new varieties- including the Shasta daisy and the Russet potato). We dozed in Burbank's garden- while christian music from a band drifted from the park across the street.

My grandmother's been making us some fantastic dinners- we've had soup and salmon and filet mignon. My sister and I went grocery shopping with her yesterday. Costco is the same wherever you are but the people dress differently. (California guys know how to dress.) But in Trader Joes I smile to see six shelves devoted to different kinds of tortillas- at at Safeway the cash-register lady automatically (despite our six bags) asked if we "need help out to the car today?"

We've spent a few evenings at the spa- talking to friend's of my grandparents (we've had very interesting conversations on astrology and teaching). Almost every night we hold a double Pinochle tournament. We have nine players so we get two games going at once. Our grandparents taught us how to play years ago so they are ridiculously fun and intense games.

It still feels surreal that we're here. Actually here. All the more strange because we drove instead of being teleported by plane. At times I betake myself to dreamy walks outside. I do cartwheels in the thick grass. I stalk lizards. And I delight myself in again feeling hot sidewalk under my bare feet.


  1. Sounds like you are having an awesome time! I can't wait to hear more. I'm actually a tad bit jealous of you being in Sonoma. =D For a while my family and I lived super close to there. =)

  2. It was a blessing seeing you all Linda :)
    I pray the rest of your trip goes smoothly!!

  3. Oooh, Natalie- you lived in Cal for a while? For how long? (Sonoma is definitely beautiful...)

    As it was a blessing to see you, Dani! Our walk is still one of the highlights of my trip so far. :-)

  4. aaww Linda, that's so sweet, it is a cherished memory for me :)