Nature Abhors a Vacuum
Driving back from another grandkids fix, “Under The Dome” (the novel not the TV show) began to creep into my subconscious. The novel shows what happens to a rural community when a huge dome comes down over it. The humans inside find they are not equipped, mentally or physically, to handle such harsh segregation. Sometimes it feels like a proper metaphor for life around here.
My first encounter with Calaveras County came when I drove to La Contenta to prep a company executive’s household move. I went straight through the Valley Springs four-way stop instead of making a right. This was before GPS were normal pool car features. I swung a U-turn at Treat’s in San Andreas and stopped at the Black Bart Inn coffee shop. After breakfast I called my wife to describe this quaint little gold miner’s main street I had stumbled upon. Years later her best friend wound up here and a couple years after that, voila, here come the Tucks.
Breakfast is the operative word. I’ve written about Frank’s before but nothing like the pathetic scene that follows. We have Sunday breakfast at this local delight every Sunday we are in town. Afterwards my wife usually stays behind to chat with the Giourousis ladies. (I call it gossiping but it is tomato or tomatter, right?) After getting some air I walk up to the front door and stick my face against a window pane. I wait until one of the ladies sees me, points and begins to laugh. My wife just shakes her head.
Lately, though, I have been standing forlornly outside of Frank’s with my nose against my pane. There is no one inside because the entire family is back in Greece for daughter Vicki’s wedding. You don’t take such a long trip for a week so it is an all-summer ordeal for me. Sheriff cars have seen my vigil but have left me alone. They probably also eat at Frank’s and share my pain.
Now, what about this dome-like vacuum? Until Frank’s reopens on September 3rd, accordingly to Mrs. Tuck, we having breakfast at the Hotel Leger. They did such a great job on my wife’s surprise birthday party that we try to get over there as often as we can. Joe and his breakfast crew are friendly and efficient. So, in the vacuum left by Frank’s being shut down for a couple of months, we discovered a new breakfast spot. We’ll just go there on Saturdays and stay with our Frank’s On Sunday ritual. Without Frank and his family’s trip, we wouldn’t have found this other stop off. The tomato stand behind the Leger is also going full tilt; there’s no vacuum up in Moke Hill.
I wanted to call this column Food For Thought because I do have an ulterior motive. I play tennis at Moke Hill’s public courts weekly and, yes, I have to endure passing Frank’s empty parking lot. The courts are in pretty bad shape, though, and a project is underway to get them repaired. The USTA has agreed to come up with half of the approximately ten grand needed for repairs if the local committee can come up with the rest. We’ve been mowing and repairing these courts for years and our work is, of course, not completely altruistic; we use them often. But the local school also uses them and the Veterans Committee has been generous helping with time, money and coordination. If readers want to donate to this worth cause they can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be setting up a special bank account to handle the project finances.
My final point is circuitous but, I think, profound. It echoes something Kevin Wycopan said in his recent column. He admitted that sometimes it’s a challenge to keep a local column local. I also strive to be local but gravitate to sexier global issues. Still, there are connections. The Giorousis family immigrated from Greece. The owners of the Hotel Leger came from outside the county. Most of our friends and acquaintances are retirees who relocated here for our rural beauty and the peace and quiet. Donald Trump has been in the news and he is definitely a more global issue. I worried about his appeal until it dawned on me that in this conservative county many of our citizens likely listen exclusively to Fox News and shock-jocks like Limbaugh and Hannity. People like me lean towards the dreaded “Liberal Media.” Both avenues are extremely subjective with owns more interested in profits than education. We actually live under a dome right now. It’s called atmosphere. If we continue to fight and let polluting profiteers divide us, we are going to wind up like the victims in King’s novel. It’s not a pretty ending.