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i left my heart…

October 29, 2015

i am a california girl.

i spent literally half of my childhood years

along the central coast at monterey.

when you consider that the first half of my childhood

was spent in japan, georgia, texas, kansas, and germany,

it is amazing to think that the other half could possibly have been spent

in. one. place.

but it was, and california continues to be “home” in that way

reserved for the formative early years of one’s life,

especially since it is a place that i return to with regularity

to spend time with family.

i believe that seawater courses through my veins

and that the momentary lapses of focus that i am prone to

occur as a direct result of fingers of coastal fog

weaving their way into my thoughts and quietly transporting me

back to times and places that are my bedrock.

earlier this month i spent ten days in california.

the first day a friend picked me up in san francisco

and we set out on a first class day in the city by the bay.


after being presented with a gorgeous strand of hand-strung marigolds

in all shapes and sizes

our first stop was golden gate park.


the dahlia gardens were in full bloom on a day that would be considered

perfectly gorgeous if california was not facing a devastating drought

that has turned the state into a tinder box.


then we went over the golden gate bridge and out to rodeo beach,

where we walked the length of the carnelian-studded rocky sand

from one end to the other.


the sun glittered on the water as gentle waves rolled in and back out again.

the rock formations here always remind be of the beach at etretat

along the normandy coast that monet painted so many times.

a major difference is that here the immediate beach is sand

and the sound of the waves is soft and familiar,

while the beach at etretat is rock and each wave sets forth a clacking and clattering

that gives the impression of being inside of a giant tumbler.


on our way back we stopped at the old fort at the mouth of the bay

and looked back at rodeo beach


as well as looking at this lovely city just inside her picturesque golden gate bridge.

boats of all kinds dotted the surface of the water,

but my favorites are always the brightly colored sailboats that skim along

in the breeze like joy in motion.


we saved time for an al fresco lunch up on the roof

with sandwiches from cheese plus

(you simply must try the willie brown bird),

a lovely bottle of chilled rose,

and exotic assorted sides that played games with my tastebuds

and kept me guessing.

we had one of those conversations about creative personalities

that gave my mind lots and lots to chew on

during my ride down to monterey on the shuttle.

how do you top a day like this one?


you put a bird on it…

(in case this feels totally unrelated, it’s not.

this bird belongs to my san francisan friend!)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

the next day was my birthday and my sister came down from reno

to spend some time with the family.

she and i took a little outing to fisherman’s wharf and the surrounding

attractions but–

hmmm…  one of these things is not like the others.


there appears to be a cruise ship in the bay.


i have never in the decades i’ve spent time here

seen such a thing.

(i did, however, fully appreciated the pacific spirit i was shown here!)


the wharf was lovely on this fine day and my sister and i

shared a sourdough bread bowl of clam chowder whilst sitting

on the wharf watching the boats.


and ship.


we went over to the custom house and the museum of monterey


where we saw this gorgeous lighthouse lamp that was,

in fact, used in a local lighthouse.

made in paris in 1887, it was originally cranked by hand six times per day

until electricity came in and the crank was replaced by a motor.


i got to see in person a painting by california impressionist

m. evelyn mccormick, the subject of a book i read recently

called a bohemian life which gave me some interesting insights

into the early arts movement in california after the gold rush.


this ornately carved cart was quite lovely.



we walked along the monterey beach where i collected mussel shells

and other beach detritus, wondering just how deep the water was out there

where the love boat bobbed around.



the next day we made one more brief foray into coastal california tourism

with a walk along the sea path between cannery row and pacific grove.




the rest of my time there was spent keeping my parents company

and trying to be of help where i could.

the night before i left i took a quick walk around the neighborhood,

packing images and memories like jigsaw puzzle pieces into my heart.


figs growing in october.


temperatures (albeit unseasonal) in the upper 80’s and low 90’s.

no wonder i am cold nine months out of the year in colorado.


also, some of this may have come home in my suitcase as well as in my heart…

these things happen.

i feel very lucky that my Dad retired in monterey county

and that california has continued to be a major part of my life.

it is an interesting cross between feeling utterly familiar

yet feeling like i can never fully understand and/or know it as i would like to.

i guess that’s how i feel about every place that i love,

including colorado.

and paris.

and normandy.

and london.

and sussex.

and provence.

and the netherlands.

and bavaria.

and …

i’ve got my work cut out for me…

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 30, 2015 2:41 am

    Every one of your photos is gorgeous, Janet. How fun you visited with Laurie and Maia! I can see where that coast would stay with you always. Glad you can visit it often. And sorry you are so cold in CO. You know, I like the snow and cold, a lot, but as I get older and the arthritis in my knee caps worsens, I have a harder time with the cold, too. But the hot tub helps! 🙂

    • sassysistersink permalink*
      October 30, 2015 3:02 pm

      thank you, Diana! after a couple of head-smacking falls on ice I enjoy the cold less and less. I don’t mind the raw beauty of breaking a trail through fresh snow, but having to navigate icy roads and sidewalks (or even our deck, for that matter) is no fun. I love the moderate coastal climate but also appreciate four distinct seasons… i guess in a sense I have a foot in both worlds, so I’m lucky! hope you get some good wet snow soon!!

  2. November 3, 2015 4:19 pm

    I missed this post somewhere along the way.
    But, it is enchanting!! You know, I could VERY easily live along the Centeal Coast.
    I could. I would find other things to take the place of mustangs, prairie skies and emptiness.
    Your images of the boats and the harbor (and that bare chested guy!) along with describing your days of what you saw, what you thought, and how you felt about being there now and then. This is what brought a smile and a bittersweet twinge… “packing images and memories like jigsaw puzzle pieces into my heart.”
    You ARE a California girl, of the truest kind. I think living near crashing waves and saltwater air is healthy. And I want to go there again.
    How very special, your time spent on L.’s rooftop with a willie bird and a glass of vino!
    I think we should seriously plan a trip out there together. But, not by train. Ha! 😉

    • sassysistersink permalink*
      November 3, 2015 4:37 pm

      i am often torn lately about where the heart’s true home is. sometimes it’s here, sometimes it’s there, sometimes everywhere, sometimes nowhere. no question, though, that there are deep roots in monterey county, from the black soil of the fields in the salinas valley to the rocky coastline of the bay. yes, the crashing waves and saltwater air is healthy, for body and spirit. lucky for me that i can return again and again, never forgetting.

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