Like every year since 2006, I am entering the Tehachapi Valley Art Association's photo contest.

The beautiful Gallery 'N' Gifts was the first place I have visited when I traveled to Tehachapi and discovered this lovely town and its wonderful people.

I live in France and worked as a stewardess on Air France for 32 years.

When I was flying to Los Angeles, I was taking the opportunity of my stopover days to visit and hike in the Sierra Nevada. I was jumping in a rental car right after my flight on duty from Paris and was driving to Bishop, my big "base camp." I did that every month until December 2007, the time of my retirement.

A friend, a resident of Bishop, told me to stop in Tehachapi sometimes.

Curious by nature, I thought that I had to discover a town with such a beautiful name.

In December 2006, on my way to Bishop, I decided to leave Highway 14. It was really worth the detour!

I really loved Tehachapi downtown. On my next visit, I explored more around, the famous Tehachapi Loop, the Stallion Springs covered bridge etc.

I also fell in love with Gallery 'N' Gifts. Before leaving, I picked up a photo contest form on the counter and this has been the beginning of a long story.

These great people allowed me to enter the contest every year.

Since 2008, I am entering only the August contest, and Gale Caldwell allowed me to send my pictures. Being retired, I come only once a year, in summer, to hike in the Sierras. I can't attend the rewards reception anymore, but I always enjoy coming, even a little later, and talking to the nice people.

I stay hours admiring all the pictures of the talented Tehachapi residents and I love to see all the creative works at Gallery 'N' Gifts. I always bring something back home. There is a little bit of Tehachapi in our house now.

I drop by sometimes at the office of Tehachapi News to get a past issue and I enjoyed meeting Darla Baker last year.

This year is a difficult one for many people and everything is so different.

I am sorry to know that most of your events have been canceled.

I have been hesitating a long time before sending my picture (only one this year). Again, Gale said "feel free to send your entry." She is so sweet.

My photo was about the bright side of the long stay-at-home order, a picture just for fun showing the good social distancing in birds.

During that long spring, I enjoyed watching the wild birds behind our living room window. My husband was taking care of the feeders and I was taking pictures.

I won't be able to come this year because of the COVID-19 travel restrictions.

My heart will be with all of you and a little part of me will be at Gallery 'N' Gifts.

I did not subscribe to Facebook, but I could see the contest pictures on display at Gallery 'N' Gifts posted on their Facebook page. I was very happy to see my ribbon, too.

Gale Caldwell and all the friends of Gallery 'N' Gifts still did a wonderful job. I want to give them a special thanks.

Francoise Renard lives in France.

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