Love Letters to California – The New York Times


Today, I’m sharing some notes from readers — lightly edited for clarity — about why you love living in California, whether it’s because of the travel opportunities, or just because you adore your neck of the woods. I always enjoy reading these messages. I hope you do, too.

“I moved to SoCal less than a year ago. I was surprised by how much California lore lived in my head. So many bucket list items live here! The first thing I thought to do was go surfing. As a 55th birthday present to myself, I took a surfing lesson in Newport Beach in May. It was a class for women, and the instructors were so kind and supportive. I met a bunch of women there and we have been surfing every weekend since. I have a girl gang now. We are surfers. I am a surfer! Ann Batenburg, Newport Beach

“The life of a native Californian is filled with stop-in-your-tracks beauty. My family moved to Shasta County, in the far reaches of Northern California, in the mid-1960s, and I soon became acclimated to stunning vistas, picture-perfect views of Mount Lassen from my bedroom window, and gorgeous Burney Falls, Castle Crags and Whiskeytown Lake. My parents built a home close to the Sacramento River where we raised pet goats, grew a garden, harvested cherries from our backyard orchard and endured 120-degree summers. I live in the city now and love it. Yet, these memories have forever set the standard for my definitions of beauty and joy.” Donna Thayer, Gold River

“My wife and I came to California for the first time in 1975 when, fresh out of law school in Tennessee, I accepted a job in Fresno. Though neither of us had any idea what or where Fresno was, I figured we would go to the beach every day just like all Californians did. Arriving in the Central Valley in August was a terrible shock: 100-plus degree temperature, no beach in reach and nothing but dry, brown hills and rivers with no water in them. We hated it, but agreed to stay for two or so years. We have been here ever since! We discovered wonderful back roads for biking through the foothills, multiple mountain lakes, a National Scenic highway, log flumes, gold mining towns, three national parks, great hiking and backpacking all within a short drive, and the beach, the Bay and Los Angeles only a few hours away. Now as we sit in a home we could never afford elsewhere, and I suggest to my wife that we retire to the Central Coast, she responds, ‘Oh, I could never leave these vast open spaces.’” Michael Seng, Fresno

“When I was 10 years old, my parents visited Southern California, and when they returned my mom exclaimed, ‘Everyone was happy in California and it all smelled like orange blossoms.’ I was sold. After college graduation, I packed my car and drove across the country to make Los Angeles my home, figuring that I could always go back. Twenty-nine years later, I haven’t gone back. There are days when the sky is filled with fluffy clouds, the San Gabriel Mountains gleam in the distance, the trees are glowing green, and I let the breeze hit my face and say to myself, ‘It is so glorious here, I am so happy.’” Heather Porter, San Gabriel

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