California Dreaming

I arrived at Stanford on Thursday afternoon, having followed Highway 101 through northern California.

Some observations about the drive: The landscape seemed to change almost immediately as I crossed the California border. The redwoods are quite different from the western red cedar in Washington and Oregon. I left the freeway to drive through the Avenue of the Giants, and I was struck by the deep silence and stillness of the redwood forest. It gave me a sense of the mystery that pervades the forests of fairytales, the vastness and otherness that one feels beneath enormous, ancient trees. And I saw light that explained to me the sense behind the word “dappled.”

That was Humboldt County, where I also saw the off-freeway towns of two hundred or so called the “lost coast.” In Mendocino County, the vineyards began, with more in Sonoma County. Here the grass is a golden brown, and I thought about the differences between the aridness of California and the rainforests of Washington. As I approached San Francisco, I smelled flowers, and further on, a cedary smell that I now think is the redwoods.

I arrived at Stanford by what seemed the back way, driving in on Stock Farm Road instead of Palm Avenue. I’m enjoying being on The Farm.

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