a little off topic but not really... as where I live is important to me and I try and send postcards that show off where I live.
I have lived in the mountains most of my life, about an hour from Los Angeles (and a quite endless urban sprawl), the ocean, and the desert and yet up here you feel a world away. The people here are unique; without much industry, most everyone who is not on social services has to commute "down the hill". Therefore, most people that live here, live here because they want to, so it creates a common culture. Add in weather and other things and you get a fiercely independent, proud, tough but nice kind of people.
We have a handful of communities with a combined population of 40,000- 100,000, no one seems to have a solid figure. My town has about 10,000. We live in the most populated forest in the nation but there are many secluded areas, more than numbers seem to make you think. Each community is different and proud of itself and teases other communities quite often, but it is not real animosity. When any kind of disaster hits, this community of communities casts their town boundaries and pride aside and helps each other out.
I like knowing people, meaning everyone at the hardware store, cafe, or grocery store knows my family, what we buy, what we like, etc. They ask how we're doing with genuine concern. If you're a few pennies short, it is ok, or if the baker has some leftovers of your favorite cake, you just might get a slice for free.
Our biggest tragedies are fire. We had "The Old Fire" Panorama Fire, Slide Fire and countless others have scarred the mountain, destroyed hundreds of homes, taken lives. I have been evacuated numerous times and have many frightened memories.
We get rough winters. The winter season generally lasts from November to April, but it is not freezing and snowy the entire time; we get warm days even into the 60s (f.) but when it gets wintry, oh my! We get Santa Ana winds that are fierce- when I was a child, my parents lost their roof in a storm; the wind simply lifted it away. This year a wind was clocked at 115 mph. We get wet heavy snows, one was 6 feet of snow in just one storm, and before my time we had even bigger deeper snows. We get mudslides that shut down roads for months and years, slides that bury people alive, rock slides with rocks as big as a bus. We get lots of rain considering our location, aboit 35 inches a year but we've had years with much much more. Electricity goes out often in winter, sometimes for mere seconds and other times, days. We get fog so thick you literally cannot see even a car's light, a rock, the road AT ALL from 10 feet away. You can not see your home from your own driveway.
Then why live here with such danger? It all depends on your idea of danger, rather, your preferences in part. You can live down the hill in the city with gangs, graffitti, traffic, smog, oppressive heat, drought, crime, or here. Here at least we get breathtaking sunsets, you can see the stars at night, we get all four seasons and wildlife too.
We have one of the most diverse areas in the nation as far as plants go. Just in trees we have;
Jefferey pine, lodgepole pine, pinon pine, juniper, incense cedar, redwoods, ponderosa pine, sugar pine, white fir, coulter pine, douglas fir, canyon live oak, dogwood, black oak, maple. Probably more! The forest covers about 670,000 acres, a little smaller than Rhode Island, and we have over 440 animal species too.
We have bobcat, mountain lion, black bear, coyote, mule deer, bighorn sheep, bald eagles, red tail hawks, ravens, rubber boa, king snake, rattlesnake, raccoons, skunk, ground, gray, and flying squirrel.... and more.
Our area was, in the 1800s, well known for gold mining. I have even tried (unsuccessfully) to find gold. We also had grizzly bear huntign until they were hunted to extinction, and logging, lots of logging and logging mills. The history is quite fascinating so I suggest you search the internet for more info if interested. We even had bootleg moonshine and mob activity in the 1930s, and then a boom of movies filmed here such as,Paint your Wagon , Heidi, (both version of...)Parent Trap, Hot tub time machine, Gone with the Wind, The Insider, Bonanza, Dr. Doolittle, Next (when the water tower falls in the movie, it was close enough to my home that I heard it fall!), The American President, Cerature from the black lagooon, Old Yeller, the Love Bug.
When winter's nasty weather gets you down, as long as the roads are open you can, unlike most snowy winter places, drive 45 minutes and see dirt, sunshine, bask in a 70 degree hot day.
I hated living here as a teen. nothing to do. Not a single stop light for an hour, and my town had no fast food and no brand name anything- just a small 7-11 sized grocer, hardware, gas station, gift shop, liquor store, bank, post office and 4 restaurants. I yearned for teenager action like a mall, clothing store, movie theater, music store, etc.
But as a small child I can think of no better place to grow up. I climbed trees, went sledding, attempted snowboarding, hiked, boated, swam, water skiied (well, tried...), played with bows and arrows and target shooting, went camping, went to "mountain man rendesvous" where everyone re-enacted the 1800s, built forts, grew gardens, made snow tunnels, took photos, wrote nature inspired poetry, climbed rock formations, found native American artifacts and petroglyphs, mined for gold and quartz, watched meteor showers.....
I cannot imagine childhood without the experiences I enjoyed daily.
away in winter