California’s got four

San Francisco’s fine,
You sure get lots of sun,
But I’m used to four seasons,
California’s got but one.
cc                               California, Bob Dylan

When I first came here, I thought Dylan was right about the seasons, though not so much about sunny San Francisco! In the over 40 years I’ve lived here, I’ve learned to appreciate the subtlety of the seasons: the parched summers when the hills bake from a golden beige to tired, brittle brown, the way the brown shades into blue as the rains come. Then the blue intensifies, slowly greening over the rainy winter, till one sudden day, like yesterday, you notice that the hills have turned a green to rival Ireland. For a week or ten days they are so green, you want to roll around in the grass–a mistake, as it’s full of prickles! I’ve had some serious misadventures based on those intoxicating hills. Then in another moment they turn from an unbearably luxuriant green to a yellow-green, to the gold of early summer, and the process starts over.  

Not to overdo my mention of Kay Ryan, she has a short poem that captures some of this:

Green Hills

Their green flanks
and swells are not
flesh in any sense
matching ours,
we tell ourselves.
Nor their green
breast nor their
green shoulder nor
the languor of their
rolling over.

Of course, the real poet laureate of these hills is Robert Hass. His latest book, Apple Trees at Olema: New and Selected Poems is worth owning!

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