Tomorrow "Blossoms" appears in The Piker Press -- an essay that came about as a result of taking the picture of nectarine blossoms. Madame Editor wanted the pic for a cover photo, and asked me to provide something to go with it if I could. I looked at the picture and was drawn to the focused blossom in the middle.
I've grown strangely fascinated by the essay since I started it. Like many instances of writing, there is so much more that the characters wanted to say, but didn't have the opportunity. I don't even know yet what the narrator's name is, but I think she has a lot more story to tell in the future.
Although I am half Mexican, and culturally share a lot more points of experience with hispanics than I do with yer basic -- uhh, what am I supposed to say here? WASP? Caucasian? Americano? Friggin' Bigot From Where I Grew Up? I don't have the experience of the characters in "Blossoms." For one thing, I didn't have a multitude of siblings. And I didn't grow up in California, where a tiny rented house in the midst of orchards is a godsend for immigrants willing to live rough or cramped for the opportunity to live in America and earn a steady wage.
Two houses inspired me. One squats on a piece of bare mud on the corner between a walnut orchard, an apple orchard, and a cherry orchard. There is no grass around the tiny house, and there is no air conditioning unit visible. Farm machinery is parked in front of and by the side of the house; two dogs are chained to posts as sentries. There isn't supposed to be a lot of traffic to the house, just the orchard roads. I see it when we ride horses out that way.
The other house is a barn that has some tiny living quarters on one end. An Asian couple live there, and tend a couple orchards. They also have planted some fruit trees, and always have a garden in which they grow watermelons, green beans, tomatoes, corn, peppers, grapes, and assorted squash. They always wave hello to us when we pass by on our luxury horses. And beside the barn they have a stand of cactus that are lousy with tunas -- cactus fruit -- every year. Being Asian, do they bother with the tunas, or do they just leave them for the possums and raccoons? They used to have a lot of cats on the property, but told us in broken English that they had to get rid of them (I didn't even want to ask how); they told us that their chickens were stolen by coyotes.
I haven't been riding out past either of the two houses since last fall. I wonder if the Asian couple has bought some more chickens; I wonder if the same family lives in the tiny house in the middle of the bare lot between orchards.
I like to try to imagine how these people survive day-to-day. They have a much more realistic sense of Life than I do.