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I’ve been in the warm now for about two weeks–75 degrees each day with nary a wisp of cloud in Southern California. Left behind: cold North winds, bare trees, brown dormant grass with hints of snow along the north side of buildings where weak sunshine did not reach. Thankfully this year Minnesota missed the terrible snowstorms the Northeast U.S. has endured.

We drove through the Midwest the day after blizzard warnings caused a multitude of cars and semi-trailers to skid into ditches all along Interstate 80. We lost count after 75 or so. From black and white misery, we drove Southwest arriving three days later to the colored world of Oz.

How could a three-day drive cause such magic? Red azaleas, geraniums, bottlebrush, orange hibiscus, bird-of-paradise, scarlet, pink, white, yellow roses, daisies, dianthus; palm trees swaying beside eucalyptus, citrus, plum trees and Torrey pines; green grass, cactus, ivy, rosemary bushes fill the neighborhoods. Thousands more varieties of plants than my ability to name surround me. It startles my senses. I love the color, the sky, the birds. I enjoy not putting on layers of clothing to go outside and I can leave the door open without threat of mosquitoes attacking.

But.

I miss my family. Phone calls and emails don’t satisfy the need to see, sense, touch, be with the ones I love. Friends are far away. Familiar rural routes are replaced by stressful 12-lane freeway traffic and GPS directions that sometimes miss the mark.

“Why would anyone live in Minnesota?”Californian’s ask. Only because it’s home. And as Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…”

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