Trees & Water

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.

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Pacific Ocean, California.

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

Venice Beach, California.
Venice Beach, California. Image from shedexpedition.com.

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:

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

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.

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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 articles.petoskeynews.com.

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).

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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:

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Michigan snow. Image from www.irewired.com.

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

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Hollywood snow. image from wattsupwiththat.com.

Remember to bring a light jacket.

(Images from http://commons.wikimedia.org unless otherwise specified.)