Such is the environment of California that even non-native species thrive here. Some have become so familiar, it's hard to think of them as emigrants.
tree is an Australian native that grows throughout the state. Author Jesasmyn West
thought one wine-country example was particularly exalted.
The single most beautiful tree I have ever seen in my life is a eucalyptus on the road between here and St. Helena. Most beautiful because in addition to the grandeur of its size and the perfection of its shape (a real tree-shaped tree if ever I saw one) it is subtly colored, in shades that range from the bone white of its massive trunk through all the possible variations of greens and grays and blues. And here and there is a flame-colored leaf burning like a candle in the depths of the green-gray gothic nave. I haven't much Druid blood in my veins, but if I were to worship trees, I know the one I'd kneel to.
Jessamyn West's memoir To See the Dream
appeared in 1957.
One hundred foot long Chinese dragon in the annual Berkeley, California, kite festival, photographer unknown, 2000. Larger.
The hot, arid Santa Ana winds
of Southern California have gotten a bad rap from writers as diverse as Raymond Chandler
and Joan Didion
. But at least one California writer remembers the wind with fondness.
Jessamyn West was the popular author of stories about the Society of Friends
, set in the nineteenth century. In To See the Dream
, West turns to non-fiction and recalls her childhood perspective on the Santa Ana winds.
To See the Dream
Friendly PersuasionRecently, reading Guy Murchie's The Song of the Sky, I had the most—maternal, I think, is the word—pleasure in finding the Santa Ana, the much-loved wind of my girlhood, listed among the great winds of the world. I smiled with all the fondness of a mother who sees by the papers that her daughter has been elected homecoming queen. Local wind makes good! My Santa Ana listed and defined. For the Santa Ana, I discovered, is a "down wind," very treacherous, a wind that caused more air accidents than any other. I never knew in my girlhood that the Santa Ana was a "down wind," a wind falling off the mountain heights into valleys; but I did know, when the green-gray dust cloud, which presaged its coming, rose like a pillar sixty miles away, anticipations of great joy. Ranchers and housewives hated the Santa Ana. But its coming was a lark for children—or made children larks. We fashioned sails, kitelike of paper, or shiplike of cloth, and abandoned ourselves to its power; and if we were not lofted like birds we were at least winged and wind-propelled.
, flim poster, 1956, re-release 1975. Larger.
was published in 1957 and recounted West's experiences in Hollywood during the filming of The Friendly Persuasion