“Have you noticed we all say ‘Y’all’ now that you’re here?” One of my critique group members asked me this after saying the word herself. I’m not sure, but I think every member of the group had just said, “Y’all” in our wrapping-up conversation. It’s true. I’ve rubbed off on them, as they have on me.
I’ve been pondering this and other changes today. You see, one year ago today, I was on a plane, my dog in the cargo hold, flying across the country where my husband waited for us to begin a new adventure. And what an adventure it has been so far.
I sat at a cafe this morning—sipping an artful latte—and read a journal entry I wrote after my first week here.
What had already grabbed my heart by the end of that first week was one of my great loves here: the river and the beauty and life that surround it. I thought I’d share with you some favorite moments (and photos) from my first four seasons here.
Along with the river, the mild weather of this region and oranges growing in my own yard are some favorites of winter here.
The riverbank is greener in winter because it’s the rainy season. This photo is from before my dog met a skunk. I can tell from the darker brown of her coat, pre-peroxide baths.
Just one of the delicious oranges from our yard
Although some flowers bloom through winter here, spring really is beautiful, ushering in abundant blooms and drawing wildlife out of hiding. The trees leafing out means more shade, too, a welcome presence along running trails.
The earliest blooms of spring
An Anna’s Hummingbird visits purple flowers near the river.
There’s no way to sugar coat summer here: it is ridiculously hot. But the mornings are cooler (compared to what this Southern girl is used to) and dry. I didn’t enjoy trying to finish runs by 6:30 each morning, but I definitely embraced the lower humidity.
Dragonflies darted happily around the yard and posed patiently for photo ops. A baby owl grew up in a nesting box attached to our house. I’m hoping for a repeat of all of this next summer.
Fall is my favorite season anywhere, and so it’s no wonder that this fall brought many happy moments. Clouds returned in September, followed by a handful of rainy days. The Sierra peaks in the distance have slowly turned white with snow. Trees transformed into vibrant colors, and at least one osprey followed the salmon run up the river. Fall here offers much to celebrate, and with the cooler weather, it’s easier to embrace being outside no matter the time of day.
Leaves aflame (not with fire but with fall color)
King of the river?
One of countless salmon swimming upstream
The Sierra peaks are even more snow-covered than this now. A promise of drought relief?
All the year round
I’m grateful for so many people and things that have remained steadfast the whole year. For my husband who has patiently weathered my homesick moments and encouraged my attempts at establishing roots here. For family and friends far away who’ve made the effort to keep in touch. For new friends who have embraced me into their lives (and into their language, too). All y’all are wonderful! 😉
I’m grateful for the great running and races here. For coffee shops and wineries and San Francisco not too close but not too far either. For Yosemite within driving distance. And, oh, the stars. How could I forget the stars? It’s darker here than anywhere I’ve ever lived. Just the other night, I noticed some stars in Orion I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.
Perhaps the greatest takeaway for me this year—a reminder I see weekly as I drive along a certain tree-lined, windy road—is that no matter where I live, this is truth:
This message resonated with many of you, too. In my tree signs series, a majority of you chose this sign as your favorite.
As we head toward Christmas and a new year, I hope you’ll pause for a moment in all the busyness and ask yourself what you have loved about each of the last four seasons. What stands out to you? I invite you to share a few of your joys and delights from the year in the comments below.