I always considered myself a desert dweller at heart, a reveler of the dryness, the deep color of sunsets, and the hidden beauty of dormant plants.
The pacific northwest overwhelmed me at first. My body craved sunlight and color in the greyness and dampness of those first few days.
And then, color erupted. I learned about mushrooms and witches’ hair lichen, saw the leaves change color and then fall, jumped in rivers and canoed in their veins, witnessed the towns whose lives are devoted to the fruit the waterways afford.
The kids predict the weather as they stand on the beach and watch the storms roll in. It rains, then it pours, then the clouds part. “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” When the sun shines there, it is sacrosanct, celebrated.
And now I am back in California, during the driest autumn the Bay Area’s records have seen. My skin prickles, confused. The sprawl of freeways and chain stores and fast drivers bowls me over. I get nostalgic over stupid things, like songs about penguins.
Predictably, places leave marks on my consciousness like a ringing in my ears. Best job I’ve had, sure. It’s easy to forget that the world doesn’t behave like outdoor school, that we as well as the kids are fated to return to struggle in a society that won’t back our ideals. The profoundness stays with the context in most cases. The best way to translate it all, besides composing sappy blog posts, is to bring everyone there, somehow.