I don't know if this guy Dave ever wrote that book. It was about the construction of the Applegate Dam in Southern Oregon, right about on the California border: my home. Upriver. He figured the desolation of the surrounding culture, loggers, hippies, ranchers, growers of green, would mean the end of something. He was right. I'm not sure who he meant to be the queen: the culture? the river? the city of Copper? the gold? But as we drove through the valley, bald eagle in the snag halfway up the has-been lake, guarding the vast emptiness laid waste by the Army Corps, it felt over.
Maybe its just winter, that time of wind-stripped trees and skies the color of unwashed sheets, stitches of birds darting across the horizon, off to warmer homes. But I couldn't get over the sense of waste as we passed homestead after homestead, good people getting back to the land in the forties and fifties, making lives for themselves in this rich valley, raising their children in relative safety. But ah, safety.
We, the children of these good people, the second generation who would carry on this good life, did not follow. Did not heed our upbringing, the lessons of our youth. Instead, we traipsed off to cities and back alleys and shooting galleries and killed ourselves for any kind of prosperity. Our own children scrabble up the sides of the holes we dug, in an effort to get out, but not to get back. They don't want to get back to nature. Nature kicked our asses. They want a tiny screen on which to live their muted lives, unseen, untouched. They don't even know that if you put a candle on the floor it will burn your house down. They just think the light is pretty.
So, I'm looking for the next generation, one that might still be entranced with the fog rising off the river, moss hanging in forgotten trees, who will build the next cabins, will save what is worth saving, and who will bring the Applegate Valley back to life.
Happy Thanksgiving. Sorry I haven't written. My computer is broken. Maybe Santa will bring me a new one.