“Autumn Days” – Chattanooga, TN  | Hope Cox

Two years ago seems an awfully long time. That’s how long it’s been since this picture was taken. Two years since we’ve experienced a Tennessee Autumn.

Recently I’ve found myself quietly choking up when I see photos or videos floating around social medias and magazines and documentaries of mossy, lush forests or colorful, autumn trees or beautiful, rushing rivers… Sigh… what has LA done to me?? Oh! I cannot believe the amount of people I have met who have lived  in Los Angeles their whole life. Who have never seen snow (aside from Big Bear) or stepped foot into a forest. Or felt a real thunder storm. Or experienced the change of colors in the autumn time. Or enjoyed a hot chocolate on a scarf-snuggling, 45-degree November afternoon!! This makes my heart so … so … well, is “angry” too harsh of a word????


“Flowers” – Griffith Observatory near Hollywood, CA | Hope Cox

I often tell native LA-ians that what I miss most about the East Coast is the Nature. I know they haven’t been near the other side of the US when they reply, “But there IS nature in LA!” All I want to say is YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND — BONSAI TREES, SUCCULENTS AND THE BEACH IS NOT NATURE!!

Don’t get me wrong, the local nature here IS lovely in it’s own deserty, beachy, no-humidity kind of way. The cliffs along Albalone Cove beg for a hang glider to throw itself gracefully over the ocean. The succulent gardens in front yards and parkways remind me that desert plants can, indeed, be colorful. But it’s not the luxurious, sweet-air, emerald-green, hobbit-like comforts I am accustomed. The ones that beckon me to get lost under the shade of trees and to doze amongth the soft grasses and gurgling creeks and to giggle while running through piles of crunchy leaves …

IMG_20140914“Overlook” – Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, TN | Hope Cox

The older I get and the further from “home” I travel, the more I can relate to Bilbo Baggins, who constantly yearned during his long adventure, to return to his “nice hole by the fire, with the kettle just beginning to sing!” (1)

(Well, at least Cobalt and I didn’t walk  to Los Angeles like the halfling and his dwarf “friends” walked to the Lonely Mountain to conquer a dragon’s booty. Now THAT would have been an adventure… ;) )

Surely the lushness in the part of the world that I am familiar with nurtures my heart. What variance of colors, textures and shapes fill the woodlands throughout the year, even more so when gentle breezes wisp over leaf-trodden paths. What child-like delight dances in the heart upon approaching a babbling stream or, better yet, a roaring waterfall, originating from jagged rocks. What sounds of life ring when birds whistle their happy tunes to each other and squirrels chatter warnings to approaching guests; when chirping crickets and hooting owls beckon dusk and glowing fireflies light the night. What eerie hushness seems to stop time as snow silently patters from cloudy skies across frozen lawns. What thrilling fear threatens the soul as the sky flashes and clouds boom with summer thunderstorms. What magic glitters the heavens on clear (and cold) evenings, shining forth the stories of the constellations…

Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. These seasons are always predicted by the changes of nature… the changes offer Hope for a new tomorrow …

I LOVE this story. I RELY on this story year to year. I WANT this story to want me in it.

Mediterranean Climates naturally lack this story. But they do have their own: Endless summer. Beaches. Drought. Long-awaited-for-rain. The story is still meaningful, of course. But not super predictable. Or comforting. At least, to me.

I find the desert to be lonely and wanting…

At least I can find a bit of beauty whilst gardening at my schools :)