Trees & Water

I miss them. I live in Los Angeles. As much as its residents try to ignore it, Los Angeles is actually part of the desert. This is what surrounds Los Angeles:

Mojave Desert, Southern California.

Mojave Desert, Southern California.

Some people find it beautiful. I am not really one of them. There are no trees. There is no green. It looks devoid of life. It isn’t, but it looks like it. That’s the kind of landscape that can kill you. If you dropped me off out there without a cell phone or compass, I would become forlorn, panicky and I could actually die.

This is what I grew up with:

Michigan forest.

Michigan forest.

Now, that is beautiful. Do you see the difference? Do you see how lush and green and full of life that is? If you dropped me off in the middle of that forest, I could spend days just wandering around eating whatever I found and drinking from the plentiful ponds, rivers and lakes just like the deer.

That’s not to say that Los Angeles doesn’t have trees. It does. They just mainly look like this:


Los Angeles, California.

Once in a great while, I can look at a palm tree and remember how cool I once thought they were. Palm trees meant Los Angeles to me. They still do, but not quite in the starry-eyed way they once did. Nowadays, I find myself, not infatuated by palm trees, but missing the colorful trees of my youth:


Michigan forest, fall.

They swallow up the sun and give you a pleasant dappled shade. They sway in the breeze and produce a reassuring rustling sound. They drop their colored leaves on the soft bed of earth. And the smell, oh the smell… There’s nothing quite like the smell of the forest. The forests in Michigan have little lakes, rivers, creeks and ponds throughout. If you walk far enough in any direction in northern Michigan, you’ll probably run across a scene like this:


Michigan lake.

It might be inhabited by people or it might not. Either way, you will have to share it with the fish, deer, rabbits, birds, wolves and bear.

Los Angeles has water, too. It actually has a one of the largest bodies of water on earth at its doorstep with the finest beaches right there.


Pacific Ocean, California.

And on a really hot day, lots and lots of people.

Venice Beach, California.

Venice Beach, California. Image from

I love the ocean; I just don’t like sharing it. If I want the ocean to myself, I drive way up past Malibu proper, nearly into Ventura county.

My favorite beach is just past what I call the Rock On The Left. Driving up the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica, it’s the only spot that has a rocky formation on the ocean side of the road:


The Rock On The Left, Point Mugu State Park, California. Image from

It’s beautiful and usually, I’m all alone, but it’s very far from my home. it is a trek and I can’t go there all the time. Sometimes, I can only make it there a couple of times a year. Where my parents live in Northern Michigan, this is just steps outside their front door:

Northern Michigan lake.

Northern Michigan lake.

At sunset, it looks like this:

Northern Michigan sunset.

Northern Michigan sunset.

Los Angeles has beautiful sunsets, too, especially over the ocean. There’s something about the sun setting over the ocean, this immense body of water that covers most of the earth, that reminds you just how small and impermanent you are.


Pacific Ocean sunset, Santa Monica, California.

On a clear night in Michigan, you don’t even have to look up to see the stars. They poke right over the horizon:

Michigan night sky.

Michigan night sky. Image from

The night sky in Los Angeles is beautiful in its own man-made way, but it is so bright that you can’t see many stars (other than maybe the movie star variety, which aren’t nearly as interesting or beautiful as the real ones in my opinion).

Night sky

View from the hills, Los Angeles.

I miss my home. I miss its lakes, trees and sunsets. I miss its smells. I wonder why I am here instead of there and then I remember exactly why that is:


Michigan snow. Image from

WINTER. Oh, how I hate thee. In Los Angeles, our winters look like this:


Hollywood snow. image from

Remember to bring a light jacket.

(Images from unless otherwise specified.)

There are 38 comments

  1. draliman

    Amazing pictures! Cornwall has moorland, woods, beaches and cliffs but is very temperate, usually between -1 or -2 degrees in the coldest winter (though it’s not often below freezing) to around 25 degrees in the hottest summer.
    I must admit, I’m one of those people who finds real beauty in the desert, but I’ve never actually been to one (Britain doesn’t have any) – I’m sure I’d feel differently if I had to stare at one every single day.


  2. Artists & Acoustic Adventures!

    really enjoyed your thoughts! i grew up rambling the woodlands of NE Pennsylvania and Connecticut—many square miles of lakes and trees. love them! i’ve traveled a lot out west and now i live down in florida. i love the ocean and find beauty in the tropics but i do miss the good old forests that i grew up roaming! so beautiful and you are right—the smell! i find that i use a lot of my observations of nature/travels as inspiration for my songwriting—i actually just started a video blog to showcase some live playing/explore the ideas that contribute to artistic inspiration…anyway, really enjoyed your post and pictures. i have to say i do find the desert starkly beautiful (especially Joshua Tree) but i know what you’re saying!


  3. behindthemaskofabuse

    i totally get this, i miss the fall colours from where i was born and rasied (i don’t miss where i was born and raised) and now we have even more snow, long winters and flat land. Where we moved from a year ago, there was at least amazing mountains i hiked in all the time and less winter…


    1. goldfish

      Less winter is definitely a plus. I couldn’t stand winter anymore. I always said, if winter was as long as any other season, I wouldn’t mind it so much, but six months is too much.


      1. behindthemaskofabuse

        We’re in month 5 and it will probably go until at least the end of March :( i agree it’s too much! the one positive here is there is lots of sun during the winter.

        in the summer it’s sunny until midnight, i have to have dark curtains i can close about 10 so my body actually knows it’s night…lol


  4. twindaddy

    Michigan is a beautiful state. I really wish it were possible for me to go back and live there, but I’m stuck here. And I don’t mind the winters. I love snow.


        1. goldfish

          Yes, its beautiful. If only it were only a few months long I could tolerate it. But winter in Michigan starts in November and ends in April. That’s too long. I have Seasonal Affective Disorder and it made me horribly depressed.


              1. twindaddy

                My uncle, when he was alive, had a cabin on a small lake near Garlord. It was beautiful there. I also have a cousin who has a house right on Whitmore Lake. It’s very beautiful there, too. I love going up there.


      1. Melanie

        Atlanta has it’s cold days, but there aren’t very many. And I have heard it can snow here, but I haven’t seen any in the cumulative nine years I’ve lived here. The summer is pretty dang hot though, but I can get to the Atlantic or the Gulf without too much effort.


  5. Blathering

    To someone not from the USA that was really interesting. I can picture a landscape in California or Texas because they are familiar through TV and films but ask me about Michigan, Illinois or Montana (just for example) and I’m searching my brain for some reference, thinking, it must be either desert, or praries, or woods, but I’m not sure. Michigan does look lovely, but I would find 6 months of winter too hard to bear too. If only we could all afford a summer residence and a winter residence!


  6. silkyvelvet

    Since you hate California so much, then leave and don’t return. No one forced to to visit here; learn to accept personal responsibility, and stop blaming others. People like you – the chronic complainers and fault-finders – are not welcome here.


    1. goldfish

      I normally don’t reply to negativity, but everything about your comment is misinformed.

      This was not a complaint. It was a compare and contrast. I never said I hate California. I don’t. I have lived here for 15 years. That hardly qualifies as a visit.

      And who exactly is it that I’m blaming here? And for what exactly? I am not a chronic complainer or fault finder; one non-complaint post hardly qualifies as chronic.

      You’re welcome to disagree, and if you don’t like what I have to say, you’re welcome to not read it.


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