6 Unburned Pieces of The Mind
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20050607

Querencia

"How hard it is to escape from places. However carefully one goes they hold you - you leave little bits of yourself fluttering on the fences - like rags and shreds of your very life."
Katherine Mansfield

This morning I woke up after a good night of just plain sleeping. It's amazing how three days of solid driving from Maine to California can make a bed feel. My cousin and I made it in yesterday afternoon, and after I dropped her off at a friend's house, I continued on to Arroyo Grande where I will be attending my daughter's graduation from high school this Thursday.

It's a perfect sunny day, warm, but not too hot because of the cool ocean breeze. After I had breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast and coffee at Corcoran's, I spent the rest of the morning taking a walk on Grover Beach. After awhile I veered off and started following a foot path leading up to the dunes. The vista afforded can only be described as incredible. To the south you can follow the outline of the beach as it wraps its way toward Guadalupe. Running east-west are the
Seven Peaks of the Coastal Mountain Ranges that drop more than 1500 feet toward the coast as you start traveling north toward Avila Beach. When you take it all in, it's hard not to feel overwhelmed with a sense of connectedness--of place--or what the Spanish would refer to as querencia.

Even the town of Arroyo Grande fits within its surroundings--the quaint village and surrounding homes with well landscaped parkways, medians and yards--and features a showcase of civic pride. As much as I hate to admit it, I find that I am really beginning to like this place. Looking back on the Pacific I am struck by how good it feels to imagine what it would be like to live here. In certain ways I'm almost convinced that the quality of my life would improve significantly if I were to move here. Oh, sure, as a drawback, one could argue that it is far too expensive to live here, that the prices are too high, and housing is simply unaffordable. But so is it where I live in Belfast, Maine, which also has incredible beauty punctuated by very long, cold and snowy winters. In comparison Belfast almost seems lethargic to the hustle and bustle of Arroyo Grande.

Saturday morning, though, it will be time to head back to Maine. It's a long drive, but what an experience. You don't really get a sense, nor appreciate how vast this country is until you've driven across it. I can almost hear the line from the Mamma's and The Papa's Creque Alley, "And California Dreaming is becoming such a reality." And so once again I will say, "adios" to this place--my querencia--of hills and mountains of green and golden brown that roll into the ocean, the scrub oaks and sage, the oleanders that bathe the medians of the city streets in reds, purples and white, the green succulents that cover the embankments, and the long, long walks on the beach as the sun begins to sink below the rim of the Pacific. Adios, that is until next time when hopefully I just might return for good.

S. L. Cunningham