Hills Like Home
drive from Cloverdale to the coast undulates between grassy
hills as flaxen as my lover’s hair. Now and then, the
roadway dips through moguls: quick turn there, a rise,
and then a plunge into a hollow—redwoods ahead. The sun
has moved past the midpoint so that an August light diffuses
into amber and gold. Though the Pacific waits in the two-hour
distance, the colors know.
north on 101, my jaw clenched with the traffic. A glance
over the Golden Gate into the whirling
bay and later smiled toward Mt.
Sonoma. I inhaled
a respite. Still, until I turned the car west at Cloverdale,
the sweat inducing traffic bog through Santa
Rosa had made the trip feel like
any other stressed thoroughfare. But then the turn and
the sign: one village sits half way.
the name suited for Appalachia,
not this soft land of family vineyards with rose trellises
and ample gardens. I would rather engage the hills in
conversation than gaggle at the store in mid-village.
I drive past charmed, I am home.
I’m drawn into these hills, mountains of the
I suppose because they are unlike the Rockies.
The slopes here lack scree and talus; no detritus of pick-up
stick fallen pines and fir, or the exposed scar of shale.
All is grass, blond, nearly white and breathless in the
golden afternoon. No August wind to scour these soft cupped
hills. Not only do I take lingering glimpses from the
pavement, but sling off on a dirt road more than once
for long moments.
has been years since my journey to Mendocino, but I remain
in its spell. A stretch of afternoon that meanders
those luminescent hills continues to evoke whimsy. A place
magical with particular beauty says, “Here is home, this
is a piece of it.”