For some reason the first week in April has become a significant time for me over the years.
It started 17 years ago, when I arrived in Los Angeles, on April 5 or 6, after driving all our belongings across country in a rental truck. My wife and I had grown weary of Washington, D.C., where we had been living for eight years, so we sold our townhouse on Capitol Hill and chucked everything for a new life on the West Coast.
It was a marvelous, eye opening and profound experience living in Southern California. It opened my mind to all kinds of people and places, ways of life I had never imagined.
Then seven years ago, I arrived in California for a second time, pulling into Calistoga with my two sons on April 8 after a 4,000-mile ramble across the Midwest and Great Plains. We were moving back to the West Coast after almost seven years in Philadelphia, where my wife’s company had transferred her after our all-too-brief adventure in Los Angeles.
We hadn’t totally enjoyed our time in Philadelphia, though we met lots of great people and liked being nearer our East Coast relatives while our boys were young. When my wife got a call inviting her to a job in the Napa Valley, it didn’t take us long to accept.
In Calistoga we found a community with warmth, character, and depth. The town embraced us and we felt instantly at home. It also happened that the editor of the Weekly Calistogan was retiring around that same time, so I found an unexpected second act in print journalism after a number of years away.
And more recently, on April 7 four years ago, I walked into the Register offices for the first time as editor. It fulfilled a longtime dream of mine, a dream I had lost hope of ever achieving as the newspaper industry struggled and contracted.
It’s a bit hard even to remember what the Register was like when I got here. So much has changed – we have a new building, we’ve been through several new website designs, our print format has changed somewhat. Even the way we design and print our pages has undergone a complete revolution.
As with all newspaper these days, our staff is smaller than it was four years ago, and yet somehow our tight little team continues to fill the paper every day with interesting and important news. Through a series of disasters and emergencies, my staff has risen to the occasion – the earthquake, the fires of 2015 and 2017, the Veterans Home shooting, and many more.
What hasn’t changed is what a great community this is, from one end of the county to the other. It has been a pleasure being editor of this newspaper, and leading this staff, and getting to know so many of you.
In my first column as editor, I invited all of you to call or email me, to let me know how we’re doing and what you want to see in your local newspaper. Many of you have done so over the years, and I appreciate all the feedback, even the critical stuff.
I concluded that column by saying “Let’s have some fun together.” And I have to say that, at least for me, the last four years have been a lot of fun.