|My view of Black Butte Lake over lunch.|
By Bob Ferris
I recently watched a woman speak about happy Thanksgivings past in front of a small crowd. She was the grand-daughter of my 97-year-old mother's closest friend of nearly 70 years and this happened at a lake-side memorial picnic for my mother's late friend. We were at this lake above Sacramento because this was where my parents and their two friends had lived and enjoyed retirement for more than two decades playing games, gardening, and teaching grand-children and great-grand-children how to swim, fish, boat, and play games themselves. For many in the crowd this had been a functional summer camp.
|Picture of the shirt but not the event.|
As the afternoon aged, some of the aged gathered cracker-barrel-like to talk life and perhaps solve the world's problems. The topics varied but we started with an old favorite: the Social Security longevity bet-hedge about opting for drawing benefits at 66 or 70. We then traveled on to scaring the younger among us about the challenges of Medicare and the forest of mail that would be coming in their direction soon. The discussion tip-toed on the wings of beer and harder fare to the current condition of our country. All agreed that our infrastructure was a mess and that the education we received in public schools no longer seemed to be on the menu except at additional cost and in private settings. There was some vague acknowledgement that taxation or lack thereof was a problem, but a bucket of entitlement talk soon washed that away. When the stalking phantom of foreigners was raised I left to grab another handful of ice and a healthy splash of the Tequila my brother-in-law was kind enough to bring for me. I was not being timid or sloughing responsibility, but this was not the time nor place for upending a dump truck full of facts regardless of how badly needed.
Later we gathered at our hotel pool-side in a smaller group and told stories. We had plenty as this was a "mirror" family with four children nearly synchronized with the four in ours. Our collective, multi-generational offspring now played together as we once did, perhaps not abandoning each other in the moonlight at a long-forgotten graveyard near Lake Tahoe or watching their fathers sink wooden boats in seconds they had built over the course of years, but constructing their own legends with every moment they spent together. In all of this it was hard to escape our privilege as our lives were more the stuff of Norman Rockwell (above) rather than Sam Rockwell (think Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri below).
The sky darkened and the evening chilled. Right after the hotel staff came out with blankets as we mostly native Californians shivered stubbornly in shorts and t-shirts, one woman in my generation admitted that she had watched all the movies in the Tremors' series. This was a large enough conversational eddy to shift us all to talking about horror movies and the other terror we invite into lives. I was amazed at all the gory movies and true crime series those around the circle offered up and seemed to watch regularly. Even though I expounded on the original black and white version of The Haunting with Julie Harris (below) as one of the scariest without hockey masks or slasher fingers, this is not where I live. I am not generally prone to fear...well there was the time I visited a bear-killed cow carcass for a compensation claim on the Blackfeet Reservation and found myself all alone, un-armed, in a dense stand of aspen when the branches near me started to crash and break...but these are not generally feelings or experiences that I seek.
The next morning I drove north towards home. My lips still felt kissed by distilled agave which felt odd as I rarely drink anymore. Perhaps this put me in a pensive and reflective mood as I traveled along I-5 looking for side trips on my slow meander to a Red Bluff hotel where I planned to spend the night before camping for a few days on the Oregon coast. I eventually spied Black Butte Lake Recreational Area and decided that might be a grand place for lunch. But on the way I got a little lost.
Perhaps it is my own prejudice, but I think that numbered and lettered streets in urban areas speak of design and order but in rural areas the same practice feels more like an act of neglect. I grew up on a street that was named Emerson and then Covington near a creek called Hale after one of the early and largest landowners in California. So when I found myself on H Road which was near HH Road and connected to 1/2 H Road driving past some rough homes and likely rougher lives I could not help but wonder what Karmic sledgehammer had driven these folks to this hard-scramble and unadorned existence. This bereft feeling was only reenforced as I drove past one particular dry, dusty yard with a fence-running and slavering Rottweiler protecting a pair of rusting and wheel-less pick-up trucks where nothing seemed to grow easily not even weeds. I know that I look through my own limited lens of privilege and there obviously could be abundant beauty and happiness I could not see, but Sam seemed to flourish at this abode more than Norman which took me back to the previous day's discussions.
The idea that entitlements, particularly to those less fortunate, are wrecking our country and tipping over the economic apple cart is an ungenerous and uninformed one. It smacks of an unattractive selfishness bordering on the ugly. But this was an issue raised by people I knew and I had never found them ungenerous or particularly ugly in nature. So something else might be at play. This thought brought me back to the horror they invited into their lives and how hard it was to convince a child there was not a monster under their bed once the fear of such had been planted. No amount of reassurances or facts could exorcise the image of the crawling and creepy below once the lights were extinguished and the adult departed. My sense is the fear in both cases is purposely planted in much the same manner.
|Black Butte Lake was created in 1963 by the Army Corps of Engineers.|