As I go through my life, I notice that there are times when a friend or a colleague gives me a piece of advice or an opinion at just the right time and I really hear it so that it sticks with me through time. I may forget most everything else about that person or the interaction while their words stay with me.
For example, I distinctly remember one of my professors when I was an undergraduate telling me
you are a mathematician, I can see it in your eyes,
but I have to think for a few minutes to remember which class I took from him (ODEs?) or why I was in his office talking to him in the first place. That was over 10 years ago, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget his encouragement.
When I first had the opportunity to live in Northern California, in the Central Valley, I was in my early 20s, and some of my friends were quite negative about the region, mostly because of the distance from my town to the ocean (something like 80 miles). It’s just not cool to live inland. I’ll never forget when my friend Stephanie listened to their criticism and later told me,
when I think about that region, I think about the yellow rolling hills against the bright blue sky. I think you might like it.
All these years later I remember her positive words. As I recently have returned to the northern central valley after three years in the eastern half of Canada, I am reminded of her description when I look around me. I am struck by how absolutely dry everything is in the west, in the summer. And though there is something unsettling about an ecosystem that periodically bursts into flames, I do rather enjoy the contrast of colors.
A good friend of mine lives in Solano county, which is on the northeast edge of what is still considered the Bay Area, with cities nestled in between the hills of the Coastal Range and the largest saltwater marsh on the west coast. I recently visited two different parks in Solano county to take short kid-friendly hikes with my daughter and friends. Although this region does not consist of gorgeous waterfalls or turquoise tropical coastline, the local ecosystem is incredibly interesting in its own way. I’m grateful to live in the vicinity of any natural environment with opportunities for walking and hiking and to have friends to hike it with.