The Cambrian

Your Turn: Cambria is a state of mind

Cambria is, first and last, a state of mind. It’s real what they say about us. We are a unique and idyllic village set in a Monterey Pine forest, scattered over Santa Lucian highlands, valleys

and canyons beside the Pacific— but that is only the geographical or GPS interpretation. Let’s unpack this claim about “state of mind” which comes in three phases or stages.

Like many of you, Cambria first became a state of longing.

Something about the village seeded itself in us when we made that fateful first visit in 1969, a respite in our drive to Limekiln from Manhattan Beach. The setting, the mood and vibe stuck in that neural network between the heart and our dreams.

Life, of course, provided its own network; daughters, careers, aging parents, economics and logistics. Still, each year we’d seek to touch and feel the special magic of being here and it would always launch the same dreams of “maybe, someday” The state of longing continued until finally time washed us up onto the edge of retirement.

The state of longing was most fervent in those three years between the big commitment when we purchased our Cambria home and the day when we would both unplug from the life of career and the work-a-day world. Oh man, were those long years!

Midwestern winters of snow and ice, endless gray days, full-tilt commitment and demands of job and speculation about real estate made Cambria the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve told John Brannon his “My Turn” columns with scenes of the rich mix of character and nature were a therapy and tonic, as we longed to be living here.

The state of reality kissed us with bright sunshine the day we finished our cross-country drive. January 2007 and the first peek of Lodge Hill from Highway 46, with the big blue of the Pacific in the distance rising into cobalt blue of the sky tweaked and tickled that neural network again. We’d been here a few weeks before to greet the moving van and to stack boxes, but in the splash of bright light and greening hills Cambria became our state of reality.

It is a wonderful reality, a blessing. To “commute” Highway 1 and Highway 46 instead of beltways circled by office parks, strip malls and industry and jammed with traffic snarls and the dodges of on and off ramps has prompted many missives of gratitude. The pace, the people, the “village life,” the new friends and the climate all remind us this reality is a dream come true.

And then there is the state of the way it should be. You know what I mean, right?

We have our controversies don’t we? Water plans. Streetlights. To “masticate” or not.

CCSD elections seem to turn on visions of the state of the way it should be. And we mix in memories of the way it was and could/or should have been. In our coffee shop chats we worry about what will become of the Brambles, is this or that business going to make it, should those trees have been taken down, what about non-native plants and on and on.

Aw, it is all so Cambria, this unique village we share, that we all longed for and that so many of us are sure we know how to make or keep perfect. Cambria is indeed a state of mind, so charming and so curious. There is only one.

Email your “Your Turn” musings about Cambria — what it is, how it affects us; what we like about it and, for that matter, what could be better — to cambrian @