One of the things no one really talks about when discussing the U.S. capital is the beauty of its geography. Seriously, have you ever heard anyone discuss in any detail D.C.’s stunning ravines and sprawling nature preserves and ancient forests with glimmering rivers and cascading waterfalls throughout? I hadn’t. All I knew is that Chandra Levy disappeared in one of them a few years ago. But until I moved here, I had no idea how extensive and rugged and breathtaking D.C.’s parks are.

The photo above is taken in a huge park that is 20 feet away from my front door. But it could be anywhere in the D.C. region. It could also be my backyard. I can take long walks along the paths that are abundant throughout the many millions of acres of parkland in this part of the world and not see another soul or hear anything but deer and squirrels roaming around. This has been a huge and delightful surprise to me, because I am a tree weirdo. I have always felt most comfortable and protected in places where there are plenty of trees around, and more than once in my life I have become strangely attached to various trees, whether it was the mammoth weeping willow at my aunt’s farm or the Kentucky coffee tree on the lawn of my childhood home or the gnarled old apple trees I once fell in love with in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. I am now crushing on a massive, 10-storey oak in my backyard, despite the fact that is dropping enough leaves right now to fill an 18-wheeler. It is a majestic mountain of a tree, with the prettiest moonlight silhouette, and I find myself staring up at it lovingly several times a day.

But if I think I’m happy, I can’t begin to describe to you the Kitty-Cat Utopia my cats are now living in. I have never seen these two happier than when they are out in my big huge forest-y backyard, rolling around in the leaves, climbing trees to get closer to the eight billion chirping birds or frolicking in the soccer-pitch-sized yard, catching mice and moles. Yes, moles. And bringing them, with glee, into the house for me as though to thank me for bringing them to this kitty-cat wonderland. Knowing that it doesn’t get very cold here in the winter, and barely any snow falls, also ensures that these cats will never, EVER, want to return to Canada. When I look up at the millions of ancient old trees all around here forming such a thick canopy in places that you can barely see the sky, I’m not sure I ever want to return either.