A love letter to the river

In less than three weeks, I’ll begin the journey back across the country to move home. This past month has brought tears and hugs and goodbye visits with friends who’ve become dear to me. I’m thrilled to be going home, but there’s plenty I’ll miss.

For the next few posts, I’ll be sharing a love letter to the river. The river has been my most constant companion in my time here, and whatever the season, it offers its gifts and treasures and delights without asking anything in return. Maybe the river appreciates that I take the time to stop and notice.

At the start of a bountiful rainy season in 2016

Spring lupines decorate the river bank (2016).

A quiet winter sunset

Whether rushing or gently rolling, the river always carries away some of my cares when I stand at its banks. For that, I am in its debt.

What are some of the things you miss from places you’ve lived before? Is there something where you live now that may be calling for a little bit of your heart?

Early spring

For many of you, spring probably feels a long way off. In California (at least near me), spring is getting a head start. The star magnolia is always one of my favorite early spring blooming trees. This one sits in the garden by Jack London’s cottage:

Are there any signs of spring where you live?


I’m dedicating today’s post to JAC. Sweet friend—I can’t sit with you as you go through this hard time, but think of this post as my way of bringing you flowers and light.

Inspiration from a literary giant

This past weekend, I visited Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen, California. I wandered trails, gazed at ruins and tall trees, and visited London’s grave and cottage. I learned about London’s life and passion for farming (a surprise to me). Mostly, I recharged.

There’s something inspiring in hearing park rangers proudly describe London’s work ethic: 1,000 words a day, usually before noon. Then he headed over to entertain guests in his cottage’s adjoining space that held a living room, dining room, and kitchen.

One of London’s typewriters in his spacious office

A great oak, one London could have seen from his office windows

Notes on a clothesline in London’s sleeping porch

Where are some of your favorite places for renewal and inspiration?

Surprise visitors

In late December, when the steelhead trout were making their run upriver, a morning visitor surprised me. I heard a great splashing. At first, I thought someone was letting a very large dog swim in the river. Then I realized it was a creature much more at home in water.

A sea lion, far from the ocean

If Google—and my eyes and ears—can be trusted, the surprise visitor was a sea lion (not a seal). It and a companion stayed in the area for several weeks, and on some of my morning runs, I could hear barking from a long way off.

Stretching out in the water

I haven’t seen the sea lion for the last couple of weeks, but the times I spotted it swimming in the river filled me with joy and delight.

Have you encountered any unexpected visitors lately? I hope they brought you joy.

Muscovy red for a gray day

I’m not complaining about the weather, but we have had a longer than usual string of gray, dreary days. This week’s photo offers a pop of color to go along with all that gray.

I believe this is a feral Muscovy duck (though I’m open to other suggestions). Not wild, but feral. It’s a distinction birding experts make about Muscovy ducks.

I love the play of white and gray feathers and white and gray streaks in the rock, but mostly I love the bright red of the duck’s beak and eye area.

What’s your favorite pop of color when you need a break from gray days?