"Our" California

(describe it physically, biogeographically, etc.)

and give it a name—or simply stick with CAFP. No! Because it doesn’t apply.

Basically the only part that really doesn’t fit is: high mountains (NW and Southern California do fit more or less although sort of special cases)

Ours is the California that makes you say “aa” rather than “ooh.” The California without the extremes—the Mt. Whitney highs and the Death Valley lows, or the Death Valley highs and Mt. Whitney lows (temperature, that is).

It is the California of endless pleasantness, endless scenery of the type that doesn’t clobber you over the head, a playground of the subtler aesthetic. No glaciers, no mile-high waterfalls, no painted deserts, or Joshua trees, but lots and lots and lots of perfect pictures: warm, welcoming valleys, quilted in color; sparkling streams; teeming marshes; sheltering groves of oak and sycamore, rolling hills, and coastal headlands, secret pocket beaches, breakers, and backwaters; long, sandy shores; high dunes; silent deep forests of redwood and fir; high sunny ridges waist-deep with manzanita; open pine woods that smell of summer; serpentine rock gardens; wind-worn rock outcrops carved into caves; dripping moss ledges; fern grottoes; salt marshes; vernal pools; mima mounds; alkali playas; inland heat and cold coastal fog; warm winter-cold summer; cool winter-hot summer; cool winter-cool summer; cold winter-hot summer.

Not quite enough rain, a little too much, ground a bit unsteady on its feet, rich as Croesus, poor as a churchmouse, and all the in-betweens, flat as a board, windswept, stone-still, rough as a rake, too wet, too dry. And of the Golden Mean, the Middle Way, quiet provider, horn of plenty, self-rocking cradle, mother of millions.

Things to pay heed. If you live in Santa Cruz Co., for example, you should know at least a few of its basic features of personality, for example that it has only one alkaline lake, and no serpentine at all, and it has a little archipelago of sandhills in the middle of it, and some very old middens, and a place called Scotts Valley, and a couple A-1 native meadows, and a piece of the San Andreas fault, and a long, low mountain called Ben Lomond, and a string of lakes, and a system of connected sloughs—for starters.