45 years ago today my 16-year-old mind and body awoke in the dark at the usual time to find things amiss. The wood shingle roof was making popping sounds. My mind needed some explanation. It’d been hot. Perhaps rain was falling on the tinder-dry shingles, causing them to expand dramatically, thus the popping. Feeling confident of this explanation, I continued getting dressed to head out the door for my morning cross country workout with the other devotees on the team.
I was wrong. What unfolded from that point on irrevocably impacted my life and the lives of those living in the other 28 or so houses destroyed by the landslide in Laguna Beach’s Bluebird Canyon. My mother, for example, a 39-year-old schoolteacher, was raising two teenaged boys. My soon-to-be stepfather living with us wasn’t quite yet 30. Several single elderly women owned houses in the neighborhood in the town now known for astronomical property values but which at the time was the epitome of modest. I don’t recall anyone being wealthy. Regardless, everyone faced a new challenge in a real estate landscape about to blast off: homelessness.
Life, as they say, as if they thought nobody would understand this if they didn’t say it, is full of surprises. I couldn’t have known then what a chukar was, for example. I wouldn’t have dreamed I’d end up living on a golf course, or that I’d be a school teacher, or a professor, or a bagpiper, or a brewer, or someone who failed to appreciate avocados until after he left the home whose landslide swallowed the two big avocado trees (and my brother’s surfboard) that supplied my mother with gallons of guacamole she did not try very hard to convince me was delicious.
And today on my way back to the truck after a hunt I found a very weathered $800 at the base of a bush . That was a surprise.
Another surprise is coming. Stay tuned.
Oh, birds seem to be surprisingly plentiful so far this season.