For three weeks in December, we moved out of Wren into a tiny attached housing unit with lots of light, a full kitchen and comfortable bed in a section of Santa Cruz called Pleasure Point. It’s famous for its waves and attracts surfers and those who love to walk or bike the boardwalk along the cliffs to watch them. The houses quickly become more modest as one walks away from the beach. Here among short streets packed with small houses there’s a neighborly feeling. We’re advised that our doors don’t need to be locked when we leave and as strangers, we get friendly smiles and hellos when out and about on foot.

I’ve had many pleasant interactions with one stand-out. It happened on a mild evening graced with a full moon. After dinner my husband, dog and I headed outdoors for a stroll. Around the first corner we met a man coming from the other direction on tiny Yucca Street. We nodded to one another, and then he asked had we noticed the moon and the ring around it. We murmured something about its beauty, and he said, “Means it’s going to snow or be an earthquake.” Then walked on into the night.

It never snows in Santa Cruz. I laughed in relief that this brand of dark humor is not confined to New England, but flourishes here as well. Great way to regard the real possibility that one will die in the sudden crashing of tectonic plates along the fault lines we’re perched above or in the tsunami that would follow┬áit.

Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz CA