The next surprise was we weren’t going to have chicken-fried this or chicken-fried that. (Sorry Pioneer Woman) Helen and Scott were vegetarians. They didn’t eat meat. I must have stood, slack-jawed, in the middle of the carrot patch when she told me that. It never occurred to me you didn’t have to eat meat. Vegetarian—another new word beside cove.
(A quick aside for all you folks wondering how on…
I didn’t just one day sit up in bed and say, I’m moving to the country. The seed had been planted long ago. I grew up in North Carolina in the fifties, back when it was mostly rural, when everyone bought their produce and eggs at the farmer’s markets, and it was no big whup. Just the way it was.
Back then summer seemed long, like a whole lifetime had passed by the time it was over. We spent the evenings catching fireflies and frogs and listening to the grownups tell stories on the screened porch in the lamplight. Until August. By August, the heat and humidity . . .
Anyway re: Fresno. Just to clear this up. Here’s what I’ve learned. It has lovely, old, tree-shaded neighborhoods, a beautiful Art-Deco Library, some great restaurants, a wonderful film series at a cool, nineteen-thirties movie palace, and a fantastic bunch of lefties at KPFK and Fresno Folklore Society and a fabulous creative writing program at Fresno State.
Believe it or not, Fresno has a Whole Foods, a French pastry shop with croissants and brioche, a Trader Joe’s and . . .
One Sunday afternoon a week or so after we’d bought the ranch, Woolsey and his brother Chris–their black cowboy hats dusted and their boots polished–pulled up in a big, old pickup to have a look around. We showed them the future building site (see picture of view) and then headed down the hill to the old foreman’s cabin Dave planned to use as a guesthouse–the one I said should be bombed . . .
I should have done this from the very beginning. I know. I know. Frankly, Dave and I got slammed. There was so much work to do, so much we had to learn. There wasn’t any time to really think much less write. We just had to get the job done–dig wells, lay pipe, cut trees, build rock retaining walls, mend fences, fix the fireplace, plant some flowers and trees, try to make a nice, shady place to sit on a summer’s evening. . .