Oh hello rain, we meet again.

Of all the times to finally get out of the long dark days and constant cold drizzle that is the Pacific Northwest winter, 2023 was probably not the best time to look for an alternative climate in Northern California. But that is what we have done, and I am happy with our decision. I wasn’t sure what to make about coming back to this area. Though we are living in a new town, the places we are visiting are known to us. The only unknowns are if current reality matches the unsaid expectations from our memories. Thankfully every place we have revisited feels like we never left twelve years ago. I’m sure if we ventured down into the heart of San Francisco or crossed the bridge to Emeryville (where we lived for two years), then I might feel differently. And that is why we have purposely left those activities for another time, if at all, because I know things have changed, and it will never be the quaint little town that very few people know existed because they never made it past “the Ikea.

”We’re asked if we are moving back, to which we reply, “we’re not sure,” but I have to say this feel more like home than where we are now—even with the seemingly constant arrival of La Niña’s atmospheric rivers.

Our house sits on top of a hill in Boyes Hot Springs that overlooks a small ravine. The neighborhood with property lines that resemble a jigsaw puzzle. No property is the same size or shape, yet somehow they made it work. The people living here are a mix of retirees and blue and white-collar workers. Some dwellings are home to multi-generations of family members. Everyone is friendly and happy. During the day, birds of all kinds swoop and circle while chirping a chorus of songs. At night the owls wake up and hoot at each other across the ravine. I have yet to see one of these magnificent animals, but I am delighted they are nearby. Frogs banter back and forth down by the newly formed creek.

We can hear all this from inside this house because this area is insanely quiet. I had forgotten what it’s like to live somewhere that does not provide a constant hum of building noise, emergency vehicles, construction banging, and the occasional helicopter circling above. At first, it was unsettling to all of us, especially the cats, who had never known this kind of peace and quiet. I’m still not sure if I like this level of quiet, but I’m not looking forward to returning to living in the hum of downtown.