Journey to a California Farming Hamlet

March 26, 2018:

I discovered such a gem of a place today. I am a little surprised I went through with the journey, as it was spur of the moment, and I had a paper to write, which was due in two days’ time. I thought I could sit in my car in the cozy small-town grid, amidst the barns, the whit Victorian houses, straw bales and clucking chickens, and work on my paper. I didn’t quite find that (but comparable, there were actually all those things, just not in on neatly packed grid of country-town neighborhood streets). One of the things that stood out most to me was the orchard. I forget why I turned onto that road, off of the main, plotted-out route; but quickly found myself in a huge orchard (well, alongside of it). I’ve never been “in” such a great, vast orchard. I suppose I’ve driven by a few, on the main highways, that were bigger – but that doesn’t count. Besides, this one was made up of trees far larger. My first guess would be walnut trees, but it’s just a guess. What struck me first about the orchard was that the grass on the floor (“forest floor”) was so overgrown. I wondered at first if maybe it was an abandoned orchard, and it made me think of depressed little rural towns, which seem to have fallen out of the world [into some grotesque realm you pass by looking at]. I had seen one exactly like this – what I describe – way up north, near the Oregon border, and I’ve always wanted to be able to help revive it. Like, that would be a great career – if it were even possible. Seems like a challenging way to make money, like any of my “career ideas.” But what a noble, romantic thing, huh? It was a charming little locale, too. I guess that’s what made such a romantic idea. I don’t even know *how* I (or anyone) would go about such a revivifying of a tiny town; I just caught a glimpse, a brief, fleeting almost-vision of the broken-down shops re-polished, the teenage kids working at the ice cream shop on summer weekends, Corny; I know. But something about the hopeless way people amble into the convenience stores, unkempt and ragged, makes me want to turn the wheel on some floodgate, and let the refreshing waters of life wash it all clean. … Anyhow, it crossed my mind that this great, proud orchard had fallen into dilapidation. And an exciting curiosity about it flashed upon my mind, and the picture of me talking to a local to understand the goings-on there made me realist: that could be a perfect career. What an enjoyable, and Good career it would be. … I don’t, however, think it was out of business. Driving on I saw it was a much bigger orchard than I had initially gotten the impression. (I remember now … it seemed like a fairly small plot of land; that coupled with the overgrown grass at the floor made me think it might be someone’s abandoned dream-life). The natural setting – almost mystical, that valley: with the snow-capped Sierras on one horizon, and the black, jagged Buttes on another; and the bright, near full moon hanging ghost-like in the clear blue sky — and those neat, perfectly-plotted rows of great orchard-trees …

footnote, November 2018:

I wrote this the day-of. I hadn’t read it in a long time, but happened upon it about a week ago and it charmed me. I couldn’t believe it was even me that wrote this I feel so different now days. But I always say that; I am quite sure I was saying something similar to this at the time I wrote this journal entry too. (It is very much a mere journal entry, a total freewrite; not polished or structured carefully or according to any style or prescribed type. Forgive me for such a rough draft. 🙂 I do hope you enjoy it, reader. I am sharing it only for that reason. It is right from my heart, but you have every right to dislike or criticize it if that is your inclination. I do hope you enjoy it a bit, though. I am from California, by the way; from a city that would be classified as a suburb of a fairly major city (Sacramento), but is rather rural itself. I also want to share this to encourage others to take these mini-adventures, even if only to explore corners of your own region. I had never been to this place I describe, and it was utterly, delightfully, romantically – charming. California is like that; even a 40-minute drive away can be like a completely different world almost).

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