I am visiting my home town, Arcata, CA. Anyone who grew up in a small town and returns many years later, must share a similar experience. It is a bit disappointing. The distances are much shorter and the buildings much smaller than I experienced them as a child. Jones Variety, the store that once attracted me because of its shelf of new-smelling plastic dolls and a candy counter where fifty cents went a long way toward a bag of chocolate stars, is now a thrift shop. The smell of used clothing wafted out as I walked by the open door.
But my home town still has something special-- it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Here the majestic redwood forests descend to the edge of the dramatic and breathtakingly beautiful coastline where huge breakers splash over craggy rocks. The ocean is fed by glassy watered rivers which pool into swimming holes for those hardy enough to brave the cold.
But almost everyone who lives here seems to be in a stupor. This may be because Arcata is in Humboldt County, the marijuana capitol of the world. But I also believe the fierce beauty of this place makes the inhabitants feel that human activities such as going to school or having a career are insignificant compared to what the natural world can provide.
Being dropped back into this place makes me feel lazy. My seven grandchildren, and two of my daughters are here too, so if I had even 15 minutes to myself, I would love to take a nap protected by a sand dune or fall asleep in a mossy corner of a Redwood grove. Instead I am planning how to get my four blocks in tomorrow. I plan to go to the local swimming pool for some water walking and swimming and then see if the local high school has a track that is open to the public. I could of course, walk down the beach. But I am afraid I would be intoxicated by the beauty and end up sitting, drawing my name in the sand repeatedly, or just watching the seagulls dive for fish.
Its really important that I do my blocks because yesterday we all ate at the Home Town Buffet. It is all you can eat, and I ate all I could eat -- fried chicken, mashed potatoes, mushy green beans, and two of the doughiest raised dinner rolls I have ever eaten with a pat of butter each. I followed this by a large piece of lemon pie. Many of the fellow diners were also obese, so I would have felt at home going for seconds, except, that I was stuffed. I actually stopped eating when full. That is good because driving here from San Francisco I ate compulsively: a bag of beef jerky, a small bag of BBQ potato chips, ten or fifteen Hershy kisses and three Milano cookies. Let's hope that tomorrow, when I resume my exercise, I will also resume healthy eating.