July 21st, 2002

caillebotte_man at his window

Complaint

The movie Paint Your Wagon was on AMC last night. I watched part of it. I like to see the town collapse. I don't like to see Clint Eastwood appear to sing. The movie was shot somewhere in the northern Sierra- I don't know exactly where- but I was reminded again of the fact that there are many parts of this mountain range that are much more interesting than the Paradise Ridge.

This is, in fact, a rather odd bit of geography. Although it is officially part of the Sierra Nevada, and is underlain with Sierra granite, the top few hundred feet of it are the remains of an ancient lava flow that is really part of the Cascade system. East of the Feather River- the west fork of its north branch is less than a mile east of my house- the mountains rise precipitously, but here we have only a gradually rising piedmont cut with shallow stream valleys. The other odd thing is that the ridge runs downward mostly toward the south, rather than the west. It sticks out from the Sierra several miles, sort of like a knot on the head of the range. The southern exposure, volcanic soil, and relatively gentle topography are what made it a good area for apple orchards. They also account for the fact that we don't have the swift streams running through rugged canyons which are characteristic of most of the Sierra.

Watching the movie, I found myself wishing that we had one of those streams here. The Feather River is one of those streams, of course, but it is nearly inaccessible at any point near my house. I sometimes wish that they would develop the patch of forest on the eastern edge of town, since that would require the construction of roads running close to the river. Strange as it may seem, though I have lived here for almost sixteen years, I have never seen the river except in brief glimpses from a moving car on the highways north and south of town, where they run along the edge of the canyon. The only flowing water I see on a regular basis is in the small streams at the bottoms of the larger arroyos that run through the town. Most of the year, they are little more than brooks. Someday, I must arrange to get close to some moving water. The monotony of the local landscape is boring me.
caillebotte_man at his window

Expectant

It is overcast again today, with only pale shadows under the trees. In the north, there are a few patches of blue and some distinct clouds, but everywhere else the sky is like pearl. Summer overcast is bright, and lacks the moodiness of grey winter days when the sun is low. There is an almost tropical atmosphere which is more suited to palms and banana trees than to these pines and oaks. It makes me vaguely restless. The birds, too, are mostly silent, and my cats prowl back and forth across the tousled lawn, looking anxious. Everything seems to be waiting. But for what? I'd like some rain, but I'd settle for a breath of air.
caillebotte_man at his window

(no subject)

Ah, well, sometimes you get what you ask for. This time, rain. Not just rain, but thunder and lightning and the sound of fire engines all over town. It only lasted an hour, but it was quite splendid, and now everything smells thunderstorm fresh. Nice. The sky is still cloudy, too, so there might be more.


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