Finding my own Tuscany

Green leaves and red laquer

I'm a little bit embarrassed to admit that until today I had not ever been to the Japanese Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Despite being a native of the Bay Area and having gone to the museum adjacent to the gardens, I had never gone in until Hubby took me there today. Today was a typical summer day in San Francisco--overcast and cool... perfect conditions for shooting photographs.

Hubby and I like to listen to podcasts in the car whenever we take a road trip and today's short drive into the city was no exception. One podcast featured an interview with one of my favorite writers, Frances Mayes (author of Under the Tuscan Sun). I rarely read a book more than once but this is one book that I've read multiple times because of the way I'm drawn into Frances' memoirs of restoring an old villa in the Tuscan countryside. As I listened to the podcast interview today, I realized that it was the first time I'd heard her voice audibly. As she described her love of Tuscany with a hint of a soft southern accent, I had a few epiphanies. One epiphany that struck deeply is one that has tried to resound ever-so-softly in my inner core for some time now.

And it is this...

I live in an area that many non-locals see as a vacation destination. For some, a trip to San Francisco may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Just as I've dreamed of visiting Tuscany for the past 13 or so years since I first read Frances Mayes' book, there are others living around the globe that dream of visiting the San Francisco Bay Area. The land of my birth; the place I often take for granted and consider to be so ordinary; the horizon I've spent a lot of my life looking beyond... this is the very place that others dream of visiting in person.

My next thought was, "Why am I looking beyond the horizon then?" Yes, indeed... why am I?

Then a wave of wonderful epiphanies came as I realized if I was in Tuscany there is so much that I would miss.

I would have missed the first flight of the fledgling sparrows this past weekend as the little birds flapped their wings and took off from their nest under the eaves right outside my studio window--a wonderful small miracle I was blessed to witness just by chance.

I would miss the screech of barn owls soaring overhead in the midnight sky, their ghostly white silhouettes dancing against the backdrop of August's Perseid meteor shower.

I would miss the soft hoarse meows of a little feral garden kitty calling to me from the back garden as I return from an afternoon away. She doesn't need to trust me, but she does. And her meows are her way of asking me to sit with her in the garden just to pet her for a few minutes before she goes off on her way to do whatever it is she does when the sun sinks low in the sky.

The final epiphany then came... what am I waiting for? I need to embrace the reality that I am here. My roots have begun to take hold, and they're going deeper than they ever have in any place I've ever lived. So why not embrace it and live every day as fully as I live each day that I'm on vacation somewhere else?

Yes, indeed... why not?

So I'm on the precipice of starting a journey that isn't really a journey. I still don't know if it is worthy of writing about here. I know I will be toting my camera with me (that's just what I do). I may just share photos and not so many words. I don't know. Any thoughts?

Orange flowers reflected
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  1. Breathtaking photos.

    Cindy, you are learning to bloom where you are planted.

    And it does just happen to be one of the most beautiful places in the world, especially through your eyes.


  2. I totally get this. I had the same thought a few years ago. Working in the business I do, I meet a lot of people who have travelled from all over the world, at great expense, just to see the area where I live. I get to experience this every day. I do keep that in mind when I'm soaking in a beautiful summer day. And, I still do dream of a little cottage in the country. There are many, many things I would miss about 'here' once I moved 'there'.


  3. Awesome post Cindy. I agree with everything. And, having grown up in that same, wonderful Bay Area, but having traveled to so many places outside of it, I often wonder why we try so hard to find joy and happiness elsewhere.

    Don't get me wrong, there are many beautiful, wonderful places to discover in this world, and I plan to see as many of them as I can! But, like Anne says to Gilbert at the end of the movie, "...I went looking for my ideals outside of myself. I discovered it's not what the world holds for you, it's what you bring to it. The dreams dearest to my heart are right here."

    There is so much we miss that is often right under our noses! Thank you for helping me refocus my perspective this evening.

  4. So glad you feel rooted. But I am a bit too much of a gypsy to stay in the same place and not venture forth. I am always planning our next trip :)

  5. Thanks for the reminder that San Francisco is something other than a place with a lot of traffic!

  6. We enjoyed the Japanese Tea Garden when we were there too. Things are kind of minute and full of color and character. Quite loved it...and the quiet, calm, non-rushed ambiance of the place too :)


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