We’re making the plunge. Moving “off the hill” to the San Francisco Bay Area. Most folks in the Lake Tahoe area wonder why we would ever consider it. They give us the, “Are you crazy?” look.
Tahoe is beautiful. I’ve honestly enjoyed the challenges of gardening here, along with everything else. But we’re ready for a change. And for a film maker (my husband) and plant geek/lover of green like me it’s exciting.
As fall progressed, plans for our move solidified and the snow fell, 109 inches over Thanksgiving weekend, I started dreaming of ferns. Ferns, the epitome of green. In fact everything green could come right back to ferns, in a cosmic sort of way.
In my heart I have two homes. The one that is important to the telling of this story is Arcata, California. A little town about 90 miles south of the Oregon border on the coast. Home to Humboldt State University, fleshy fungi lovers, off the grid hippies, a whole bunch of regular folk and coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens). Many of you may first think of the Eewok villages of Star Wars when you contemplate a redwood forest. This is a good start. It’s wildly verdant, lush, full of ferns and fertile ground for the imagination. Jurassic Park would be an easy leap.
The San Francisco Bay Area, the north bay in particular, is very similar to areas of Humboldt County. It constitutes the southern end of the coast redwood range with many of the same understory species. It feels a bit like “home”. A beacon of green.
But before our January move we made a quick, celebratory dash to NYC, which collided with the holidays, more snow fell and then we journeyed to Puerto Rico. I had no idea what I was getting into with Puerto Rico. Like I said, it was an expedition crunched between December festivities, shoveling snow and a move. No time to study or read up on it. This was a press go vacation. Get on the plane and show up.
Fortunately someone in our group had the presence of mind to plan ahead and, one day, we found ourselves on a bus (with extremely dark window tinting) driving to the El Yunque National Rain Forest. Arriving, we unloaded in droves, feeling very much like tourists until our eyes adjusted and we were breathing fresh air again. Rain forest air.
The “green blurs” impossible here, every plant, tree and flower distinctly unique. This includes the ferns, but it was the tree ferns that were absolutely unbelievable. Not only out rivaling anything I’d ever seen in other tropical rain forests but causing me to recalibrate notions of my “home”. This was mega flora to match any imaginable mega fauna. Holy Jurassic Park.
The above photo, a mammoth example of circinate vernation, is the fiddlehead (or crozier) of a tree fern. The new leaf coiled and ready to spring open. I believe this particular species is Cyathea arborea, Common Caribbean Tree Fern, but I didn’t take time to key it out (any corrections welcome).
El Yunque is a place to discover and, honestly, be transformed with awe. There is nothing else like it.
And now, back to reality, the dreaded packing begins. I must face the closets, cupboards, find the seeds I’ve collected somewhere in my refrigerator and dawn my game face. Moving is never easy, but I have a goal. And it’s green.