Time May Heal All Wounds- But It Makes Homesickness Worse

My little town has always been the core of who I am.

Even now as I sit thousands of miles away-it feels close enough for me to touch.  It still stings my heart that I am too far away to do so.

Boulder Creek still looks the way that most towns in the West used to.  Something I never appreciated till I moved East.  It is still stuck in a time when California was a wild place as far from civilization as could be reached by land.  The “edge of the continent” as my Dad always said.

Where brave people dared to move away from all the safety and civility that came before.  Hoping for something better. Or at the very least an exciting adventure to tell back in the city, if they returned to it.

Mostly I think it was the spirit of self-reliance that inspired people to come here. People who wanted to answer to no one but themselves and live the way they wanted.

Plus the lack of wicked cold winters probably helped.

Boulder Creek is a quintessential frontier town, one main street lined with stores and shops.

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These small businesses may not have everything you want but they will provide you with everything you could need. The whole of downtown contains not a single traffic light of any kind and only one main intersection.

There are no chain stores here, not one.  Everything is owned and run by the people who live here and it shows.

I have always said that Boulder is made of equal parts hippy and hick.  At the end of town is Jonnie’s market, a huge florescent arrow points down at the front door from its roof and flashes “Liquors” in bright blue green lights.

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While right across the street stands New Leaf Market a hippy whole foods store.  Both have enough business to prosper.  In fact both are necessary for the needs of the town folk.

The economy is a local one.  We are the gateway to Big Basin State park but tourism is not something necessarily encouraged by the locals and certainly not to be depended on for anything as important as earning a living.

The old buildings remain largely untouched by ‘progress’ unable to expand from their original foundations by the forest, river and mountains that made their initial existence possible.

The fronts of many buildings still carry their original signage.  ‘The Brandy Station’ is written in yellow letters above the building that was the town bakery in my youth and is now a Chinese takeout restaurant.

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“Mac’s 100 Year Old Place” adorns the wooden awning of the building where I had my first job.  Then a restaurant now an antiques shop.

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Murals of town at the turn of the last century are painted on a number of outer building walls and they look almost the same as the current vista only the fashions worn by the town folk have changed.

This was and still is a logging town, founded on the harvesting of the forest that guarded us from the outside world and made our little haven possible.

My parents chose to raise children here deliberately, they always called it “god’s country.”  Still wild and composed of more nature than human construction.

The mountains were not the safest place to raise children and that was not the reason my parents chose to live in Boulder Creek.

It could be argued that- being forty minutes from the nearest hospital, only one sheriff for twenty miles, abundant earthquakes, regular and extended power outages and having poorly funded school system made it a horrible place to raise children.

This widely accepted sentiment that living close to everything (in case of accidents) and relying on school budgets to determine how educated your kids will become was not one my hippy parents believed in.

There may be safety and security in numbers but there is little in the way of self-reliance and the quite calm necessary to gain true self knowledge.  My parents wanted to live where it was beautiful and quite.   Where everyone has enough space.

They felt the best gift they could give their children was belonging in a place where you could see god everyday-in the face of a wave or meet him alone on a mountain top. They gave my sister and I the gift of solitude and then had the courage to let us go explore it.

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My little spot down by the river that runs along my road.

Small town life means you know everyone and everyone knows you.  You are all tied up together in the communal web wether you like it or not.

There is no anonymity.  Your actions will be remembered, your family name and reputation will mean something.

Highway 9 is an entity in and of itself, it is the only major road in and out of The Valley.  The first 26 years of my life I drove or was driven on this road almost everyday.  I know its turns by heart and like most locals I drive it a comfortable ten miles above the speed limit and rarely break for the curves.

Once after driving a friend from out of town down 9 to Santa Cruz he exclaimed “That road is crazy!  Some parts don’t even have guard rails!” This sentiment baffled me.

It’s not bumper bowling!  You are supposed to stay in the lines, not bounce off the sides.

In my teens and twenties when I would drive home late at night from work in Santa Cruz, I normally had Highway 9 all to myself the whole way.

The bubble of my headlights only able to illuminate the immediate section of pavement on that winding road.

I would come down the hill at the top of town and there Boulder would appear before me. Not much more than a small strip of colorful buildings lit by a dozen signs and street lights.  Seeming to float in the endless darkness of space around them.

All around the mountains were pitch black framing this little strip of light. The effect of the town hovering at the end of a long ribbon of road with the moon and stars above, made me feel like all of it was lit up just for me.

As if everything had been waiting for me to come home.

It is an intangible thing.

A moment of true peace to end my night and remind me why I made the commute in the first place.

As the years passed, lights appeared one by one on the mountains forever changing that magic illusion.  A fact that still saddens me.

Had my life gone as I presumed it would when I was a sand covered child I would still be there, living in that ancient forest.

Small town life suits me.  For me there is no place more beautiful than those mountains that sprawl down the the sea and my little town nestled within them.

But this is not a story of realized expectations and childhood plans come to fruition. It is the tale of all the adventures I never intended to take, ones that made me a refugee from my land and sea.

All the things that make up my life now are as foreign to my intentions as they could be.  My story is made of all the inadvertent turns life has taken and how embracing that lack of control has resulted in those things becoming the most important gifts in my life.

In contrast to many of my peers I never had the urge to leave The Valley. Even those of us that have left The Valley seem to end up back there somehow. When you are a kid you call it “The Valley Curse” since it seems like no one is ever able escape for long.

As you grow, I think we all come to see it for the blessing it really is.  A silent acknowledgment that there is no better place- that you belong there.  To be honest I think it is the basic inspiration for this text, something so special should be chronicled by someone who loves it very much for being just what it is.

Big bright cites, far off exotic destination and stressful jet setting careers don’t quite compare to the feeling in your heart when you drive home late at night and can truly believe that the whole town was waiting up just for you.

 

Boulder Creek in the misty morning light.  How I miss my little town.

Boulder Creek in the misty morning light. How I miss my little town.

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59 thoughts on “Time May Heal All Wounds- But It Makes Homesickness Worse

  1. Ember. Thank you for this. It brought a tear or two or maybe three…. thank goodness I have a door on my office that i can close. I miss BC so much. Probably one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life was to move my family to SLV. The kids were so angry with us, coming from paved streets, sidewalks and the mall. But, you know, now they all call it home. I may move back some day. I do miss it a lot. But, some unhappy memories mix with the good. In time, as is God’s design the blend will shift and I will only remember the good. Thank you again.

    BTW, I enjoy your writing and look forward to each new installment.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you so much for this! This was expressed exactly as I have tried to describe Boulder Creek so many times before. It brought tears to my eyes because I have never experienced anything like the at home peace I feel when back in the SLV. I hope some day to move back and raise my children there as well! Did you go to BC elementary or Rewdwood?
    Rachel.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Amazing article! Thanks for the read! The memories just kept coming back as I read. This truly is BC, to the t. I miss home soo much, I’m surprised I actually beat the curse and moved away. I miss this beautiful place every day! Class SLV 2003!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As a young “hippie” mom I often took my son and daughter for day and weekend trips to Big Basin. We’d often stop in BC on the way home. My son, now grown, and his beautiful wife Katie recently purchase their first home in Brookdale. Many weekends are spent up there now, watching my granddaughter grow up in such a beautiful place brings great joy to me heart. Your love for your hometown is eloquently captured. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Having lived in Ben Lomond for 26 years and raised both our daughters there, the valley will always be the true home of my heart. I miss my community, my green, green trees, Fall Creek, the list is endless. We have been away for three years, having moved for work, and just experienced our first Pennsylvania winter… Surely not what we’re used to!!! Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great write!
    I describe the town as where the 1870s meets the 1970s.
    Some folks are scrambling around in the rat race every day dreaming of the day they can get away from all the madness and stop lights . Others seek the solace of religion and the promise of Heaven when they shuffle off this mortal coil, to turn a phrase, there is ample beauty and nature if you just put you and your family into it. I call it Heaven on Earth. Waves and mountains mere miles apart . I woke up in the gas station when I ran out of gas one night testing some suspension changes I made when I was almost 19 . My first thought was ” I need to live here”, 5 years later we started a family of three boys and never really left..almost 30 years later
    Santa Cruz Mountains : we are all here because we are not all there……profound

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  7. Hi. In 1999 I moved from Boulder Creek to the Mendocino coast. We had been living in BC for over 20 years and worked in the Silicon Valley. We raised my son in a small cabin there within a short bicycling distance from downtown BC. I loved it.

    What others have not mentioned is what brings fond memories to me.
    – Halloween, when the highway was all but shut down and the entire community came out for tricks-or-treat in the businesses.
    – The short drive to Big Basin state park, the Monterey and the aquarium, Santa Cruz and the board walk as well as all the other joys of such a great college town.
    – The library, and the community uprising when it was scheduled to be defunded by the county.
    – The excitement of the shooting of the “Buzzsaw” movie, or what was later renamed “Out on a Limb”. Many of us “locals” remember that event with joy.
    – the COMMUNITY SPIRIT. Small towns are hard to describe to folks in the big city, but they are a dying breed that should be salvaged.
    – the smell of REDWOODs. There is no greater tree in the world, in my mind, than the Redwood.

    I loved Boulder Creek. We moved away because of a simple truth – that land was too expensive to start our dream of an organic “farm, horse ranch and goat dairy, so we moved to the Mendocino Coast which is also filled with small towns.

    What is amazing is that I have revisited Boulder Creek several times since moving, and it still looks the same. It saddens me that the small businesses I knew in the “old days” – the Grounds Keeper coffee shop, the BC Bistro, and others, have all gone away, but the buildings still look the same as the author mentioned.

    I don’t miss the traffic of the (fellow) silicon valley commuter traffic, or the HOT summer days, or the SMOKEY winters (the valley FILLED with wood smoke that kept the cabins warm).

    I do miss the small town I could ride my bike to with no real effort, and the “Karate” dojo in the local church assembly room.

    I live in a very small town again, but this time on the Mendocino Coast. Small towns are precious. To my former neighbors in Boulder Creek I say: CHERISH THIS PLACE. KEEP IT THE SAME, and DON’T LET ANYONE MONDERNIZE IT.

    Small towns are precious. Don’t let them become simple bedroom communities for big cities.

    Thanks for this site. May all my BC neighbors remember – this is a special place on Earth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. While we moved aways because of my stepsons. We recognized that simple truth. The land was too expensive to have much of it.

      We now live in a town where there is no “town” and the nearest store is in another state 🙂 My neighbors are mostly farms and we have room. Not as much as we would like. but more then we would ever be able to afford in SLV.

      Small towns are treasures and farming and homesteading are our future.

      After visiting the goat farm down the road my oldest said “that barn was amazing!!” and the youngest mussed “I wish we were barn people!”
      “Me too” I giggled.

      I am so glad we can offer them this space. It is a blessing!

      Thank you for your support!

      Like

  8. I’ve traveled through Boulder Creek several times a year since 2003 to be involved with a Scottish Fiddle school at Camp Campbell. I have taken several photos in Boulder Creek to remember it by. Won’t be going this year however. I live just north of Atlanta, Ga.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I grew up in an isolated, rural town in the Northeast, in the forested hills that the Iroquois called home before my ancestors arrived. The flow of education and career took me to the West coast and the San Francisco megalopolis in 1969. Almost thirty years after that, I finally settled in Boulder Creek, and have been here ever since, and do not intend to leave, ever. Yes, I feel homesick for the forest of the Iroquois, but this place — your home place — salves that a great deal. Thank you for this reminder of how much my home resembles the place I am homesick for.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading! Every year it gets worse and I count the days till I can go home but for now being here is what I have to do and it is enough to know that even though I am gone I am not forgotten. Thank you for your kind words! Be well!

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  10. You never knew how good you had it until you move away huh! Retired navy, I’ve literally been around the world and there is really no place like the Valley. I’m stuck on the east coast now, so thank you for this reminder of how unique and special this corner of the world is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m stuck here too! Just not the same, no matter how you cut it… I used to say the “east coast is for people who don’t know about the west coast” You can see where that got me 🙂 Life’s best things often take us far from where we intend, it is nice to know I have so much to go back to when I get there. Be well!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Nice reminders of my old hometown. I was born in 1956 at Sisters’ Hospital in Santa Cruz and Boulder Creek (though never Boulder to me) was my first home. We lived across from Boulder Creek Elementary and it was “country” back then. My dad was a volunteer fireman and a square dance caller. Everybody knew everybody and whole towns supported local sports teams, often travelling to watch the all-stars in other areas. Community at its best. I look forward to visiting soon and travelling old streets again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WOW! I wish I could have seen it back then! In my mind, it is still country but I know that is getting harder and harder to maintain and every time I got back there is more…stuff. The magic is there still and I have to have faith that this energy will be protected by those who are there to keep it. A place of love deserves love. Be well and thank you!

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  12. Lived two miles east on Highway 9 from Boulder Creek, 3 houses down from Fain’s Market and Crystal Pool. Lived there from 1950 to 1959 from 6 years old to 14. Went to Boulder Creek elementary all six years and 7th through 10th grade at San Lorenzo Valley High. I still miss it, A great place to grow up. I now live in Honolulu Hawaii but still remember the mountains with fond memories. Aloha for the fine piece. Wish there were more pictures.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you very much! My husband lived in Kauai for many years before he moved to Santa Cruz. Here are a few other posts that have more pictures of the area from past visits, if you are interested. Mahalo for your time! I am planning a trip back in a few months and I will snap a bunch more. Be well!

      https://wickedruralapothecary.com/2014/10/29/throwback-wednesday-yes-i-am-that-impatient/

      https://wickedruralapothecary.com/2014/10/29/throwback-wednesday-yes-i-am-that-impatient/

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  13. Wow! You are quite a talented writer, Elli! Thank you for putting down on paper, for the most part what many of us think & feel about our town. You had me ballin’ like a baby!
    I was dating a man from BC in 1998 & the 1st place I went to was Joe’s Bar for the annual Christmas Party, a benefit for VCUM. I started working all of the benefits & moved here from Capitola in 1999 because, for the first time in 40 years, of moving from place to place, I knew that I belonged here. That I would never leave. I was finally home. Had to move out of town, for 3 years, when the house I rented for 10 years, forclosed on the owner. Kept my BC p o box, so that I came back once a week to visit! 4+ years ago, while looking for a house to buy in BC, my husband & I found our forever home in Ben Lomond. While it is not Boulder Creek, it’s close enough. Still have my p o box because I consider myself a BC gal. Anytime I am there, which is every couple of days, I feel at home, running into several people I know.
    Living in “our” mountains, I feel a sense of gratitude, that I have never felt anywhere else. I tell people, if you belong here, you just know that. There is no question. The love I feel for the like minded people around me, is real & strong. That love comforts me when there are turbulent storms where trees fall & power goes out. We are a capable, hearty & resilient bunch of folks here, that truly care & step up, when one of us is in need.
    That feeling of a close knit community means we never need to feel alone. Ever. This is a place that inspires writers like yourself. Thank you for sharing you writings with us. Love & light (I know, I’m a little bit hippy…) to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the high complement! It is easy to write well about something I feel so clearly.
      I never wanted to move away. Never for a second during my 26 years made any effort to stray. But then I fell in love with a man who had kids and voila! We live in Maine.

      We both count the days till they are grown and we can move back. It is nice that I know there is a spot saved for me and I have to admit FB is good for staying in touch.

      They are our mountains or we are their children. If that makes any sense at all. I was blessed to be born on magical ground, ancient land and for that I am grateful.

      My nickname around town was ‘hippy chick’ so I don’t mind the ‘love and light.’ It was funny, when I was attending UCSC I was a ‘hick’ for being from the mountains but as soon as I was in town, hippy chick again. Perception is a funny thing.

      I have done some other writing about the land and trees if you have a second to read it.
      https://wickedruralapothecary.com/2014/04/08/for-the-love-of-trees/

      Thank you for sharing your story and maybe I will see you at the post office some time 🙂
      Thanks again and be well!

      Like

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