Friday, February 09, 2007

I am from...

I am from endless California sunshine and brown summer skies. I am from palm trees lining streets like an endless queue of ducklings. I am from crashing Pacific waves, distant islands like smoky mirages, and oil drilling platforms lit up at night like far-off fairy palaces. I am from rivers wrapped in concrete, never to flood again.

I am from hot pink bouganvillea, golden yellow grass, oak trees so large their branches form enormous circles touching the ground around their massive trunks. I am from rattlesnakes creeping across my path, coyotes howling in the night, and shy brown rabbits munching on well-mown park grass. I am from hawks endlessly circling in the bright blue sky. I am from night skies so bright I could hardly see stars. I am from avocado orchards, orange and lemon trees in the backyard, brilliant green lettuce fields as far as I could see.

I am from houses built too close to the water falling into the ocean, houses built on hills sliding down, houses built in narrow valleys being consumed by wildfire. I am from earthquakes waking us up in the middle of the night, shaking us into doorjambs or under desks at school, cracking the sidewalk and our patio floor. I am from the smell of burning grass as flames lick their way up over the nearest ridge. I am from wildflowers immediately sprouting from the blackened earth.

I am from riding my bicycle up and down my street with my dog in the bike basket. I am from playing Nancy Drew mysteries on the playground with my girlfriends. I am from trying to beat the Guinness Book world record for swinging the longest, as long as recess lasted. I am from proudly wearing my Brownie uniform, resplendent with patches, every Wednesday to school. I am from looking on in wonder at the fancy sportscars in the high school parking lot.

I am from driving down the big hill to see my Grandma every weekend. I am from driving out to my aunt's house every Christmas Day. I am from driving endlessly on highways, watching the red and white lights stretch on into infinity through the car window. I am from watching the world blur and drip as the rain dances down the window when we got stuck in traffic. I am from six car accidents, one broken wrist, one facial scar and much broken glass and dented metal.

I am from In-N-Out Burger juice dripping down my chin. I am from bomb pops from the ice cream truck circling the neighborhood, endlessly playing "Pop Goes the Weasel" from a loudspeaker. I am from bologna sandwiches on white bread with mayonnaise. I am from always being jealous that my mother got to lick the chocolate cake bowl while I only got the beaters. I am from burritos and quesadillas, Thai sriracha sauce with my tod mun, chicken pizza with creamy garlic sauce.

I am from three little dogs wagging their tails at me when I come home from school. I am from taking each one of them to be put down by the vet in their extreme old age. I am from having four cats and a dog, and realizing that's too many pets for one house. I am from always wanting a cat, and never getting one until I grew up and moved out. I am from helping feed orphaned baby birds, using eye droppers and toothpicks. I am from having conversations with crows, laughing at the arrogance of wild turkeys, and shivering with awe as a herd of deer thunder past me.


Thanks to Charlotte for inspiring me.

8 comments:

charlotte said...

This was lovely, Henitsirk. I loved the juxtaposition of wildness (coyotes and rabbits) and civilisation (oil rigs), and then wildness (fires, collapsing cliffs) turning on civilisation. California must be a pretty exciting place to live!

I am also from hot pink bouganvillias!

Henitsirk said...

Charlotte, California is indeed a pretty exciting place. I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles near the Santa Monica Mountains, so though we were in a fairly large city we would still often see coyotes and such. There is definitely a sense that humans in that area have encroached unwisely on the wild. Some of the most expensive homes are built right where wildfires are the worst: narrow canyons filled with resinous plants and trees (which in the wild need occasional fire to prosper, but with fire suppression everything gets out of whack). Or literally right on the sand of the beach, where if the stars are aligned correctly, they will be washed out to sea in a big storm.

There are some incredibly beautiful things about California, but I really wouldn't want to live there again. Too many people living in a place that cannot sustain them.

healingmagichands said...

Oh, yes, and the mountain lions moving back into the area and seeing joggers as prey. . .

I was born in California, left when I was 7. It could be so beautiful if it was not so beleaguered with people.

Your I am from is lovely. Must do mine. Must do mine. now I am twice inspired.

Henitsirk said...

HMH: Oh yes, mountain lions making a comeback. That was a big topic when I lived in the Sierra Nevadas. Sightings of cougars prowling around the Placerville hospital were not met with joy in most residents!

I suppose I should qualify this posting that I am talking about Southern California, since I didn't move to Northern Cal. until I was married. I would have very different things to say about the northern part of the state.

GreenDaddy said...

I like the part about the chocolate cake bowl. Nice to think about a mom enjoying herself.

healingmagichands said...

Thank you so much for the inspiration! I finally finished my version of "I am from" this morning. What a wonderful exercise.

Kerryn said...

I loved the bit about the grass fire and the wildflowers blooming from the blackened earth. Too often we forget the rebirth that comes after the devastation wrought by fire; and that sometimes the "bad" needs to happen to give "good" a place to grow.

Lovely, lovely post.

Henitsirk said...

Greendaddy: I have to admit that when I bake with my kids, I get the big bowl and the kids get the spoons, even though I resented it when I was a girl!

Kerryn: Fire suppression is such a contested thing in the US West. They're seeing huge problems with forest management because they don't let natural fires burn for fear of property loss, which causes mega-fires later by not letting underbrush be cleared out.