Monday, April 20, 2009

A View From the Hills

As we drove down from Jackson, headed home, we got to a scenic point and pulled over. There, below the hills, was our beloved Central Valley.

Across the expanse of flat farming territory, we could see the filthy smoke from a farmer burning orchard trimmings, a reminder that many of the orchards had just been shaped a few weeks prior. The pale line in front of the smoke is Woodward Reservoir, a cache of fresh water for irrigation, a favorite place to ride horses and go fishing.

We'd spent the day in Jackson, up in the Sierra Foothills. This is significant for more than one reason.

Number One, this was the first time in nearly three years that I had wanted to go anywhere. I've agreed to go places, I've enjoyed going places, I've been forced to go places ... but wanting to go and see something different? It seemed like an entirely new sensation to look off at the mountains last Wednesday and think, "I haven't been there in 20 years. Wonder what it looks like now?"

Bernie was not about to let that pass by unheeded, so we drove up to Jackson the next morning, with me itching almost not at all, and eager to see another part of the world.

Jackson is most remarkable in my eyes as being a town (pop. 4000 or so) the size of a large fart that inexplicably has one of the best kitchen stores I've ever been through in my life. You need something kitchen-y? Jackson. The kitchen store on the Embarcadero in San Francisco is a frilly, pointless shadow of the scope and quality of the kitchen store in Jackson. Well, and that would be why I've been going there for 20 years, now, wouldn't it?

Other than the kitchen store, however, and some very pretty spring flowers, Jackson is still a kind of run down little town in its "Historic District" (also read as "if it's historic, we don't have to fix the sidewalks"), nondescript in its usual strip-mally drugstores and chain restaurants on the outside of the Historic District. The road to and from is narrow, two-laned, and without berms, so that when there is gorgeous scenery, you can't pull over to enjoy it, and the puffing, tailgating, frenzied drivers in their trucks and SUV's and luxury speeders cluster on your back bumper so you can't slow down to savor anything.

Nevertheless, it was Out in the World, and it felt good to be there. That's a big leap forward for me. Glad to feel it!

Then, coming down the side of the hills, seeing the Valley spread in front of us ... home. It was a grand day in all respects, including the non-itchiness.

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