Avocados on the tree
History | Places | Poetry

On the ranch in 1980

I picked up a book of poetry and noticed it was published in 1980, and I asked myself, where was I when this book came out?

1980 we spent the entire year, all twelve months, on the avocado ranch. It was our magical time in paradise.

We married in March of that year, mostly because we had been living as married, comfortable in the prospect of long lives together and thought it best to make it formal and legal. A judge in a small municipal court in Hemet did it for us, with his two office assistants standing as witnesses.

We voted for Jimmy Carter in November, without much enthusiasm but with considerable disappointment when he lost. We went up the hill to vote, up to the house where Rainbow Heights met Rainbow Crest, and cast our ballots in the little portable booths set up in the garage. We may have been the only ones in that garage to vote for Carter, maybe the only ones in the whole valley. We had seen the mess Reagan had made of California and expected the same for the country. Perhaps we underestimated the extent of his shrewd meanness. The country still hasn’t recovered.

But we were more concerned about caring for the avocados, the newly planted grapefruit trees, the macadamias. We took the canoe out on the pond most evenings, sometimes caught a few fish. We fed the neighbor’s horses twice a day during the week, wrote poems and sang songs. We watched the sun rise over the ridge of Rainbow Crest and make its way toward the ocean that we could sometimes see in the distance.

We were alive then with youth, not quite knowing how happy we were, but too hungry with ambitions to settle into that contented landscape. How could we have known that ambitions are little more than fears that ride on other people’s expectations?

But in 1980, our ambitions stayed mostly on the ranch. We didn’t know that good books of poetry were being published, and we didn’t have the money to buy them even if we had known. Instead, we wrote our own poetry, and for reading we had the sky, the trees, and the lizards.

 [Daily post 038 of 260 in my year-long challenge.] ♨

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