Driving down from the Altamont Pass, the highway curves through a long, shallow, descending valley on its way down to the flats of the San Joaquin Valley. Wind turbines on either side, and the occasional cow. Karen noticed the hills rising up from us on the left side were covered in dark green trees, while the hills rising up on the right were grassy, tawny, and treeless. Looking up side valleys we could see what was going on: The left slopes were north-facing and thus moister, the right-hand slopes were facing south and got more sun, and so were drier. West and east-facing slopes were a mix, but it was clear that if you walked around a hill from north to south, you would pass out of trees and brush into open grassland, and that this would happen on hill after hill. Having driven this way dozens of times, we both remarked on how surprising it was we had never before noticed such a fundamental feature of the landscape.
noticing the tiny habits
that make a marriage