For Love of California
I married California when I married John,
and got to know her through her very large array of Natures — wild, engineered, cultivated.
We drove the backroads and listened to the people who had tied their futures to her land in innumerable ways:
The moonscape protectors at Mono Lake
The backcountry people in Desolation Wilderness
The odd-duck vets and opt-out seniors living on the cement platforms of abandoned Quonset huts near the Salton Sea
The kids in Mendo cleaning bud
Central Valley farmers lobbying for water rights in what by nature’s logic would be a great desert
The red-faced vintners and ranchers of west Sonoma and west Marin with their new ancient ideas of living with the land, wearing mudcaked boots at polling places, carrying Dante in the back pocket of paint splattered coveralls, leaving Self-Reliance on the dashboard of a bare bones pickup
The brown people with commuter cards who walk back and forth daily between the split cities of Mexicali and Calexico to climb on buses and pick all day in the hot sun on what was a prehistoric lakebed, without shade, but a port-a-john. Some try to bypass the checkpoint by swimming in the sewer of the New River- the most polluted river in America.
Our love for this great land sometimes blinds us to its flaws, collapses, broken places- where society failed, where the social compact drew a blank. It is mostly the poverty and visible lack of balance that throws me.
The contrast between tweet-happy software engineers and the herds of day laborers on street corners. A world where where venture capitalist fly G-6s and schoolyards exist in disgrace, with public classrooms unpainted and bookless. Where movie stars and celebutantes model lavishness, while the lines at social services grow longer.
This individualism scares me, the rampant rights of adults run rough-shod over those of children, the rightnow-ists ignoring posterity, the prime of lifers rights & obligations coming before the aged, the very ones from whom all current possibility was inherited and built upon.
Home at sunset, the golden hills smile, eucalyptus and cedar, lavender and thyme, our garden of eden, the Bay sparkles. Even in storms there is ease.
Mother nature always bats last, John often said. Gold turns to dust, the people fade away, the storms come, the earth upheaves, there is change.