On my commute to Livermore, there is a stretch of land where the radio fizzles out. Since we don't talk on cell phones when driving anymore, I drive in silence admiring the passing scenery. Every day I am struck that so close to bustling Silicon Valley there is still open space that changes with the seasons; when the sun bears down, the land bleaches to look like Russet potatoes. It is a simile my wife used when we first moved here from the east coast, and which I still find to be an accurate description. In winter, it shines a verdant green with a little encouragement from the rain. Cattle share the landscape with distant windmills. These days a dense mist comes down to the winding roads; throw in a couple of weather-beaten barns, and I think I am in rural Vermont or Scotland. For those 15 minutes my mind unclutters like beads rolling off a broken necklace. No thoughts of fiscal cliffs or the raging wars, of unemployment or the stock market turmoil. Instead it fills up with the undulating, beautiful land and, when there is a break in the mist, the sunshine painting new colors.
I have always wanted to have my morning coffee with a view that does not include my neighbour's cat staring at me through his window. Instead, my morning commute takes me past this little jewel every day.
There are signs advertising land for lease or sale along the roadside, and I know that one day this jewel will disappear like so many others, a mirage lost to time and development. Soon I will need to reroute and take the faster highway with its cell phone reception. But for now, for as long as this will last, I will enjoy the silence with the view.
With a perspective and enjoying my cup of coffee, this is Bhaskar Sompalli.
Bhaskar Sompalli is a scientist living in the East Bay.