Valentine’s Day Love Letter to California
In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re talking about love.
Not romantic love, but an equally real, possibly just cliché feeling — for California.
Many of you have written to me about why you love Carmel by the Sea, Atascadero, Napa, Laguna Beach, or the entire Golden State. Fittingly this holiday season, your manifesto is sweet, passionate, and largely indifferent to our state’s shortcomings.
You tell me: California may be burning, drying up, expensive and sinking into the sea, but you still love it.
Honestly, me too. enjoy.
(PS Many of you wrote that I will continue to share your opinions in the coming weeks. As always, you can reach me at CAToday@nytimes.com.)
“During the pandemic, I was trying to get out of San Francisco and go back to my hometown of Baltimore. The City by the Bay called me back a year and three months ago.
Every neighborhood in San Francisco holds some kind of beauty. Fantastic succulents, majestic mountaintop views, colourful Victorians and people, whoever they want to be. Since returning, I have felt the strongest sense of belonging. My heart will always be in San Francisco. I fell in love with this city. “— Alimos, San Francisco
“I grew up in Minnesota, where winters are cold, and I especially love winters in Escondido. Clear blue skies, surrounding your ridges, and sunlight on your skin, even with a cool 60-degree breeze The warmth on the top. With all the bird sounds, it was a magical morning. After 2 years of covid-19, deep breathing is really a joy I enjoy every day.” — Mark Vaughan, Escondido
“My family moved to Hacienda Heights in 1964 and I have been a Cali girl most of my life since then. Hacienda Heights is almost the perfect place to live. We are close to the beach and mountains. On a clear day, we Big snowy bears can be seen from the roof. Despite radical changes in rush hour traffic, the access to the freeway is fantastic.
I drove my first freeway drive the day Highway 57 opened to the public. There were no cars so our driver teacher made us drive at 65 mph and it was so exciting! ” — Mari Turner, Manor Heights
“The Golden State nourishes my soul / Her bounty in touch and sight /
A state so culturally and spiritually/enough for its inhabitants/
Her sun pours, warm honey spills on her skin / Feeds on her riches, from barbacoa to vin/
Linen and Pine Quilts/Deserts, Mountains, Shimmering Shores/
California dear, would you be mine? “— Masaka Kato, Los Angeles
“While I’m excited to study in Europe this semester, my dearest Berkeley, I’m terrified of spending Valentine’s Day without you.
If there’s one thing this distance has made me realize, it’s that there is nowhere in the world beyond your indisputable strangeness. From the dinosaur people at Sproul Plaza, to the street artists in Durant, to the contrast between an $8 latte and a $1 taco, no two days in Berkeley will be the same. “— Jessica Blaloch, Madrid
“My dearest California,
I have tried to leave you. That was decades ago, and you pushed me away for the same reasons you pushed others away – transportation, housing costs, and for me, missing my family and my hometown I still love.
So I got in the car and drove towards the coast. But before I got to Big Sur, I realized why I had to stay. Where else in the world is it possible to take a car and get to the white sands of Carmel in a few hours? The cobalt blue waters of Lake Tahoe? Neon mustard on the green hills of Napa Kelly? Although your range and intensity can drive me completely insane, you are the most gorgeous and complex state I have ever known. I love your geography, your ambitions and your open-minded, visionary people, I would never take it for granted.
California, we’ve been through a lot together over the past few years – fires, drought, coronavirus. However, those unfortunate developments just made me dread losing you and deepened my gratitude. As I gaze out the window at the beauty of the cornflower winter sky against the bare oaks, you are my home. Even if you break my heart, I will always love you. “— Lisa Wren, Walnut Creek
what are we eating
A vegan version of the typical crusty taco.
where we are going
Today’s travel tip from reader Cynthia Nunn who lives in Santa Maria:
“One of my favourite ‘stay-at-home’ destinations is Cambria on the Central Coast. It’s a small town gem about 10 miles south of Hearst Castle (San Simeon). Courtesy of Lynn’s Best pies on the west coast. Hotel prices vary by season and are not cheap, but a few small hotels are good value for money (right on the beach, $300+ per weeknight). There are a few on or near the water Hiking Trails. Cambria isn’t exactly the cultural heart of the West Coast, but it’s just a really nice town to spend a three-day weekend exploring.
I live about 50 miles south of Cumbria, so it’s been my favorite destination for decades. “
Tell us about your favorite places to go in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We will share more in our upcoming newsletter.
Before you go, some good news
Conservationists are often pitted against agribusiness in California’s water wars, and environmentalists and farmers are joining forces to protect salmon.
Read more from Reuters about a decade-long experiment in Northern California.
thanks for reading. I will be back tomorrow. — Sumia
PS here is Today’s Mini CrosswordAnd a clue: with twisted humor (5 letters).
Jonah Candelario, Lyna Bentahar, and Mariel Wamsley contributed to California Today.You can contact the team by CAtoday@nytimes.com.
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