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I’ve written many times about one of my favorite places: a farm, on a river, that introduced me to Northern California and all sorts of good things. I was much younger when I first arrived, and yet returning – even now – still helps me feel whole.

Occasionally, I’m lucky enough to visit for a weekend. It’s stunningly good for me to work in the garden for a couple of hours, to get into the river for a quick dunk, to bask in the bright sun and cloudless blue sky. It’s surprisingly easy to forget the stress of my life as I pull on my wide-brimmed straw hat and get covered in dirt.

Spring was in full celebration of itself this weekend. We snapped asparagus off its stalks and spread compost around tomatoes. I noted the tiny white flowers of strawberries and the full, sweeping branches of a willow tree. The days started out cool and warmed quickly, so that we pulled off sweatshirts and rolled up pants, and at night, without lights to dull them, the stars pinpointed the dark sky like jewels.

It’s so important to have these corners of the world that help us tap into parts of ourselves that aren’t always on display in our everyday lives. I had no idea, when I first visited almost two decades ago, that this farm would be one of those dear places for me. Yet it is.

Each time I smell that unique potpourri of pennyroyal, dirt, and sunshine, my whole body gives over to something I cannot name, something I only recognize deep in my heart as exactly where I need to be.

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