For the Tanners, March Madness often means it’s time for a change.
Yes, change is how you grow, and even bad changes can have positive effects.
But every change comes with its own baggage, even if the shift is as simple as a vow to eat more kale, clean the garage or be nicer to your mother-in-law. And for more significant changes — marriage or divorce, new job or losing an old one, natural disaster or human-triggered tragedy — the baggage gets really heavy.
For us, the vernal equinox has been when some of our biggest changes hit. In fact, during the next few weeks, we’ll acknowledge anniversaries of three start-of-spring benchmarks that made dramatic changes in where and how we live and who we’ve become since then.
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In late March 1971, I became a metropolitan expat, fleeing from Newport Beach to a Central Coast town of about 1,500 people. I was fed up with city living. My mom and stepdad had moved to Cambria a year earlier, and my two little boys and I were more than ready to join them in paradise.
When I think about how Southern California is now, I’m reminded how very lucky we were to make that leap then.
It changed our lives in more ways than I ever thought possible. The boys grew up in an idyllic Cambria setting, we launched a bakery/catering business we adored, and we shared 17 close years, more than half of it in the same house, with my mom.
I also met and married the man of my dreams, whose humor, intellect and love have so enriched us all. In the gambling vernacular of his previous job (middle management at Harrah’s Club, Reno), the boys and I were dealt a familial full house, aces high.
In 1994 however, just after spring arrived, Lady Luck rolled snake eyes for the Tanners: Our Cambria home burned to the ground in a blazing inferno triggered by an electrical short.
We lost nearly everything, but nobody was hurt. We rebuilt on the same property and then moved back to the home of what my mom called her “Tahitian TV”: windows overlooking otters and whales, pelican feeding frenzies, big waves and remarkable sunsets.
Then five years ago this very week — after we and our home neighborhood for three decades had changed — we moved again, this time a little more than a mile to a home built in about 1974 on a meadow high on the headlands of Strawberry Canyon.
That gamble has been the winning hand in the high-stakes Texas hold ’em game of life.
The best part? Our quirky abode encourages us to interact (at a safe distance) with the surroundings and the creatures therein. We watch from our dining table, living room couch or at the kitchen sink, in the zen garden or on the back deck.
Life here is Cambria magic.
It’s thrilling to spot a California condor soaring overhead, or see a line of 13 bucks marching in a close-formation parade down the slope. We’ve repeatedly watched a bobcat catch and eat his rodent luncheon, and caught fleeting glimpses of two foxes taking a quick drink from a basin in the meadow.
We hear the throaty growl of a mountain lion in the distance, track golden eagles, hawks and vultures, and thoroughly enjoy the hijinks of “Big Red,” with his frequent hummingbird blitzkriegs as he tries to defend two feeders at the same time.
We remember the time a new fawn gazed sweetly up at Husband Richard (who was sitting at the dining table). Or when another fox barked frantically for about a half-hour from his perch on one of our lawn chairs (who knew their barks sound like Scarlett Johansson with a cold?).
And, oh yeah, sunsets over the sea are pretty nifty here, too, framed by the skyline of Cambria’s legendary forest.
Yes, life always will deal us changes, some good, some not so much. Some still will arrive during Tanner March Madness.
But Cambria is home, and so are we. We may have been the vernal equinox kids in the past, but for this hand, we’ll just wish ourselves “happy anniversaries” and stay right where we are, thank you.