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Lemon County: Broke...
The State Of The Golden State
If you have never experienced the golden light that washes over the California landscape in the late afternoon, add it to your bucket list. The sun, heading towards the horizon, picks out a unique set of hues in the trees and hills that must have enthralled the early visitors on their search for gold. The sense that, just below the surface, lay ripe nuggets waiting to be plucked, is palpable, and captured quite brilliantly by the early California painters.
Of course, finding natural hillsides is a bit of a challenge in Lemon County, but you still get some of the effect as the almost horizontal rays, pick out the low-e windows of the houses, spread like a rash on every former hill.
Once upon a time, like twenty years ago, there were a few actual fields. Mostly growing strawberries. I was a bit puzzled at first. It looked like the farms were practicing some weird form of safe plant sex. All the rows were covered in plastic, and nothing vegetable was allowed to peek out anywhere. I believe this has to be done to keep out the air, which is famously toxic.
Before the strawberries, there used to be orange groves, and avocados, and of course a lemon tree or two. She-who-is-adored tells me it used to smell heavenly. She would drive south on the five freeway, with the windows down and let the smell of the blossom waft over her. I think it is now illegal to drive on a lemon county freeway with an open window, something to do with having to pick out the smog that collects in your teeth.
The point is, this place was heavenly. It doesn't exactly suck now, but twenty years of growing nothing but houses has had a noticeable impact. The trees have been put in the tree museum, as Joni predicted, but there is still not enough parking.
Somehow we have gone from a place where gold could be found just lying around, to a State in a real state.
Apparently we have no gold.
Politicians are fond of saying that if California were a country, it would have the tenth largest economy in the world. Wait, and it turns out we are poor? What happened?
I think it all comes down to the fact that we love it here, but want to be somewhere else as well. Keep the weather and the pretty bits, but can we be, I don't know, a little more European or something? Our cars already need to be BMWs, or Mercedes, or Jaguars at the very least, and Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, Maseratis, Porsches, Ferraris, and Aston Martins, if possible.
Even our homes, once Spanish (ish) in style, need to be converted to Italian, Tuscan being the most emulated look at the moment. You would not believe the number of olive trees all over the place, messy blighters, leaving their little green and black fruit all over the ground for the gardeners to clean up.
Now, normally, it is just the appearance of European that is wanted, not actual European, (have you ever experienced their bathrooms?). The exception seems to be the wholesale importation of European kitchens, courtesy of Smallbone of Devizes or Poggenpohl, with Wolf ranges and Sicilian marble. These picture perfect monuments to culinary desires and aspirations remain unsullied by actual cooking most of the time, and apparently need to be remodeled every two years, or so.
Every now and then, all the appliances in your home become dangerously unfashionable.
Now, I have to agree that harvest gold and avocado green should never have actually seen the light of day, but they still lurk in a few bathrooms and kitchens. Bathrooms seem to have gone universally white porcelain and chrome, with glass tile (preferably imported) and bamboo cabinetry adding to the cost. It is now very important that your ablution options include the use of jets in both the shower and the bathtub. And they both need to be large enough for at least two people.
The goal is to create a “spa” feel, luxurious Zen, calming and pampering you as you start your day in paradise. Tough call when you have to leave the house by four a.m. to avoid the freeway traffic…
We are a little behind here at casa Lincoln. The kitchen appliances are an eclectic mix of mostly black and white. We have white fridge that is supposed to be a stainless steel sub-zero, and a black oven, microwave, dishwasher and trash compactor, which are supposed to have been replaced by white, then stainless, then hidden behind bamboo cabinetry.
We live in imminent danger of having our house declared a “classic”. HGTV presenters will come to laugh at our lifestyle and tell us how embarrassingly unfashionable our things are. We would not be able to go out in public and the humiliation would be absolute. The fact that they still work is a poor excuse and will garner you no sympathy.
I run the risk of being cast out of Lemon County anyway, due to my strange habit of fixing things myself. It is rare that a little fleet of workman’s vehicles would be found in our driveway, unlike the majority of my neighbors, who seem to be having things fixed or replaced on a daily basis.
I suspect that the local economy benefits a little from all this activity, and there must be a thriving market for stuff that works but is no longer “in”, (probably south of the border), but by buying from Europe we seem to be mailing most of our Dollars to the land of the Euro.
Other than one very large farm in the Central Valley, we no longer grow anything. Other than a few movie and TV studios, we no longer produce anything, and, other than a couple of million apartments, we no longer build anything. We fill our homes with expensive things from Europe and cheap stuff from China.
But at least we have that golden light at the end of each day, a gold credit card, and the off chance that we might still find a nugget in the ground…
Dear Hub Reader
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