The San Juan Islands, with ferry in the foreground.

A recent post by our Opera friend Linda got me to thinking this morning
about environments — places that we like to live in and places that we
don't like.

I was born in Indianapolis, a very flat city. And later I moved to another
very flat city. It wasn't until I was 30 and moved to the Phoenix valley
that I lived in a place with mountains. I loved the sense of vista there,
of space. When I lived in Tempe I could go outside my second-floor
apartment door and look East and, if the pollution wasn't too bad, see
60 miles all the way to the Superstition Mountains.

Returning to Indianapolis for a couple of years after that I really hated
the flat landscape there. In Indy there is only a 350 feet change in
elevation between the lowest area of the city and the highest. No matter
how many houses or buildings were involved I always felt that if I was at
one spot and then traveled 5 miles to another spot that I was essentially
in the same spot. The overall feeling was one of claustrophobia.

I now live in Spokane. We have mountains here, or perhaps they could
be called hills. But anytime there is a 2000 foot change in elevation in
the confines of one small city I would say that it is mountainous. The
overall feeling here, as opposed to the claustrophobia of flat places,
is one of being in a secure cradle. It is a very nice feeling. I don't think
I could or would ever return to a flat environment to live.

I do like the seashore, though. It's sort of strange — I'm not much of
a water person in terms of swimming and such, but I do like being near
or on the water. Over on the West coast of Washington there is a group
of islands called the San Juan Islands that combine both mountains and
sea. Of the places I have traveled to in my life, Friday Harbor in the
San Juans is my favorite place on Earth. It is generally cool most of
the year, and I love taking the ferry so much that I would probably take
the trip into Anacortes every day by ferry if I could afford it.

In fact the only reason I haven't moved to the San Juans over the past
few years is that rent there is too expensive. The cheapest apartment in
Friday Harbor, just a little unimpressive place, would cost me more than
I get as monthly income. Well, perhaps it is for the best. It doesn't snow
there much. And I am sure that I would miss the snow.

And so I will stay here in Spokane. Not ideal perhaps, but still safely in
the cradle. Mountains, beautiful gray skies, majestic pines, wonderful
snow now and then, and a river running through it all.

Yes, this is home.

Spokane, Browne's Addition, looking West.