There weren’t any trees. That’s how it looked to me when I arrived at Stanford University. I had come with a fellowship for a doctorate in modern British history. Home was in Missouri, college in New York, both were in river valleys. I was used to an environment of deciduous trees: maples, elms, oaks, apples. I was used to a red and gold October.
Where were the trees? Palm Drive into Stanford, of course, but palms are really giant grasses, not trees. The eucalypti were fragrant and mysterious in the fog. They were as much alien to the Bay Area as I. My parents and I had driven cross-country from St. Louis in the orange Camaro convertible my father had given me for graduation (over my mother’s objections). We stayed a few nights in Yosemite. There I saw trees.