“A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.”(Chinese proverb)
Darkness and night had been closing in on us like a vise. So much for film noir winters in Seattle. You can deal with it, or do like the birds and head south. With our daughters living in San Francisco, my husband and I chose California for Christmas. I haven’t told them yet but it may always be this way.
We are driving. “Welcome to California” reads the sign illustrated with yellow poppies. The sky lifts; it is higher here and blue. Mt. Shasta is straight ahead and pointy. Soft grass on one side of the mountain, on the other, craggy rock. Black angus dot the golden fields. Pine needles shine in a silvery light, looking like feather trees. Rocks glow like mica. Everything is shining in this state. There’s a glare to the light, and something we haven’t seen for months: jet streaks across the sky. And things we never see in Seattle such as trees laden with oranges like ornaments. For the color and the light alone, we are glad we are coming.
I believe it’s a California bylaw that things are never quite what you expected. On Christmas day we dressed and stepped out with our daughters for a Moroccan dinner in The Castro. Later, to my sister-in-law’s home in The Bay Area where the food and the wine never stop and every room is filled with art, one room flowing into another. Something has come back, it seems, a painting, a piece of sculpture, a magnum bottle, from every place they ever traveled and every event they ever attended. All together, assembled, arranged, and showcased, as one giant celebration of life.
Returning, a steady rain accompanies us as we make our way through The Pacific Northwest. That’s alright, we are over the hump now in terms of darkened days. Sod farms as green as Ireland, tree farms, and despite all the trucks on the road, we noted that not one was carrying logs. When the housing industry is down, the trees get a break. Clear cut areas have a chance to grow back, which has to be good for the birds.