• Wed. Oct 4th, 2023


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Why We Stay in California

Housing is unaffordable. Summers have become unbearably hot. Earthquakes and fires remain an ever-present, terrifying threat.

And yet, nearly 40 million of us choose to live in California. For the past several weeks, you’ve been telling me why.

In the dozens of love letters to Fresno, Crescent City, Glendale and more that have landed in my inbox, there are some common threads for why we stay: family ties, the beaches, the diversity, the pleasant weather. But more often, the reason is something far less concrete, something that can’t easily be summarized in a few words.

Today I’m sharing your notes about why you love your corner of California. As always, you can share your own submission at CAToday@nytimes.com. Enjoy.

“I’ve traveled the world and there is something distinctive and unique about the light in Southern California. It’s brighter, shinier, warmer. My first year of graduate school in Boston was freezing, wet and gray. When I returned home to California for winter break and stepped off the plane in December, I felt the light of the sun in my bones. The sky was so blue. It was visceral and unforgettable.” — Darlene Salmon, San Diego

“Dear Napa,

For eight years now, I’ve been in love with you. Whether it’s a densely foggy morning that smells like the sea or a day of blue skies speckled with hot air balloons, I wake up instantly reminded of my love for you.

As I drive through this valley of rolling hills, vineyards that change shape and color throughout the year, craggy mountains and hiking trails of endless wonder, I realize how lucky I am to truly love where I live.

California is not perfect, but I can never leave. Whether at home in Napa or with my feet in the sand at Dillon Beach or breathing in the smell of the forest on a trail, you have me forever. And I hope I have you.” — Megan DeGuerre, Napa

“I love this vacation land I get to live and play in. Hikes through the redwoods, floating on the Smith River on a hot summer day or a stroll on the beach. The northernmost end of the state has it all, except the crowds.” — Sandra Anderson, Crescent City

“California in general and Los Angeles in particular has a rep for being a haven for people who love nothing so much as hiking and surfing, which made Burbank a delightfully nerdy surprise.

My first apartment was in walking distance of three used bookstores on San Fernando. Then there was the Christmas celebration at City Hall in which Burbank welcomed Santa to town by giving him his own library card. When I saw that, I turned to my partner and said, ‘That’s the most Burbank thing I’ve ever seen.’

From the multiple gaming stores to the sci-fi conventions at the Marriott and the Dalek standing sentinel at Geeky Teas — the world’s first, and perhaps only, gaming cafe/tea emporium/kitten rescue hybrid — Burbank flies its nerd flag like it’s the seal of the city. As one of Burbank’s thousands of nerdy entertainment professionals, it’s hard to imagine a city that could make us feel more at home. — Kathleen “K.C.” Cromie, Burbank

“No matter where in the world I have been, there is no feeling like the feeling of flying and descending right into a California evening. As I admire time and again its majestic golden light and walk into the sage-infused dry air, I know I am home.” — Rosana Díaz, San Francisco

Aromatic cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves meld into this comforting Nigerian porridge.

Joshua Tree National Park. Yosemite. Mercey Hot Springs outside Fresno.

The Times writer Caity Weaver tried #VanLife in California for a week. It wasn’t pretty.

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

What lurks at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean? Californians have a rare chance to see for themselves.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s new exhibit “Into the Deep” showcases bone-eating worms, spider crabs that are 12 feet wide and pulsating red jellyfish discovered so recently that scientists have yet to give the species a name, KSBW 8 reports.

“A lot of these creatures we don’t know a lot about because they haven’t really been studied,” Beth Redmond-Jones, the aquarium’s vice president of exhibitions, said. “We know more about space than we do our ocean and the deep sea.”

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: “It ___ been easy …” (5 letters).