old worn out roads

The last few days I have been down in central California in a small farming town supporting an old friend who came down here to get some surgery done. It's been an odd experience.

I was raised in a small farming town in Santa Cruz county where lettuce, strawberries, and apples were the main crops. When, I was a kid, I never thought much about the crop dusting, fumigation, pesticides, or other practices the farmers used on their fields and crops. Now, I look at the earth differently and honor my connection with the web of life on this planet. I know it to be sacred - and highly critical to life continuing on our planet.

Yesterday, I drove out to Pixley Wildlife Refuge which is near Earlimart. The refuge is a long drive down a flat, two lane hiway and a chuck-holed road with ancient asphalt. I parked and opened my car door and stood up. Gorgeous red-shouldered blackbirds were hanging on to the branches of a tree in the wind. Mourning doves were cooing. Little brown birds were hanging on the mustard plants and chirping. The place is isolated; just a huge tract of grassland that gets marshy in the winter.

I took pictures, walked a bit, and painted a small watercolor. I watched the old school bus down the road drop off the lone kid who lived at the run-down farmhouse. I drove back the long way on the county roads through the huge fields of commercially farmed land.

Past the farm yards with huge piles of cow manure and lime green chemicals for the fields. Past the vineyards with silos of pesticides waiting to be sprayed on the plants. Past the properties with half a dozen broken down mobile homes and houses with plywood doors. Past the two state prisons. Past the new stucco two story house in the midst of the run-down farm labor houses.

I drive back to the hospital to visit my friend. The nurses, all women, are all very kind and friendly. Some of them ask me about women's spirituality and the degree I am getting. The difference between their warm response and the energy in the abused earth surrounding the hospital is jarring.