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Note from Elaine: Guest Poet Roberta Fine is back by popular demand. A friend for decades, she’s always been an inspiration to me. She reads more books and writes more poetry than anyone I know. Teacher, writer, artist, mother and grandmother, Roberta enriches every life she touches. After a recent trip to California, she produced a lovely bouquet of Haiku.

In every lifetime there is a golden bubble, a time and place preserved in its own magic gel in ones memory. Sometimes you wonder if you made it up, if you revisited the place, would the reality be crushing? One of my daughters continues to call me on such memories, finally buying a plane ticket to deposit us in that spot (after a long twisty drive) to either debunk or validate the stories or perhaps just to participate in that golden time.
Such a place is a hidden pocket in the northern California coast redwood country called Arcata. Between the sea and the Sequoia sempervirens, its inhabitants have been influenced by and dependent upon both. Fifty years ago there were cone shaped lumber slash-burners and fishing boats dotting the bay, feeding an industry. The burners are gone, but some fishing boats ply the ocean and Humboldt University is still thriving, attracting ecologists, foresters, wildlife managers, fisheries experts and anyone who seeks to preserve or make a living from the abundant natural resources that intersect with the Pacific Ocean.
What’s not to love about such a conglomeration of tree-huggers and sea and stream rovers? In our forest rambling, ocean watching, meandering steep neighborhoods, savoring seafood in locally owned cafes (chain restaurants prohibited), we were impressed by women without makeup, low meal prices and high property costs (not much building room left). Of course, two-thousand-year-old trees still stand, the ancient ocean laps the rocks and the inhabitants cherish them. Arcata wasn’t a fantasy.

Arcata, California

Embracing redwoods,
Sea air wrapping giant trees.
Wave-rocked fishing boats.

Granted permission
To live with archaic trees,
Town clutching steep slopes.

Forest meeting sea,
Stern grey waves washing rocky shore.
Great redwoods looming.

Tender light in woods,
Redwood branches filtering.
Massive, incised trunks.

Speck on forest floor
Canopy a mile above.
Treading cushioned earth.


Roberta Fine adopted Haiku as her medium of expression.