John Steinbeck grew up in Salinas. The opening pages of his opus East of Eden describe in stunning detail the river that ebbs and flows through the valley, “a long, narrow swale between two ranges of mountains,” as it wends its way down to the sea. I’ve come here during the rainy season. My lips cannot do the beauty of this land justice. The hills are so lush and verdant, the farmland so deep and rich. My aunt assures me it is not always like this. The summer months turn the hills brown; Steinbeck depicts them in a more painterly mustard. Driving around The farmland and hills, I keep repeating the word “gorgeous” because all other words fail me. The palette during this wet season pleases me. There is a strong, clear, gilded light that runs over the valley into a blue haze in the foothills. As you get closer to the coast, water diffuses the sun so that shafts of light pierce their way through a pearly white mist hanging over the land. Palatable but not quite tangible. My camera phone will not do this place justice.