My introduction to living in the beautiful Napa Valley was Yountville. I came to live there as a 2 year old and only left the Valley under mysterious and misleading circumstances. Although parts of me lived in the Pacific Northwest, my blood has always remained in California and the Napa Valley.
The planet has shifted her skin around and we woke up terrified at 3:20 am on Sunday August 24th, 2014.
We were jolted for a good 6 seconds (probably longer) and it was the single most terrifying few moments of my life. I've been in many car wrecks, jumped off a few roofs having fun, broke up with nasty boyfriends, went speeding around the road to Berryessa, and have been left behind while hiking in the mountains near Lake Tahoe.
The earthquake is in all the news, so I won't go over the details here. Many lovely buildings I grew up with are now in shambles, yet, surprisingly, many buildings, homes and streets appear to be completely untouched.
The Post Office in downtown Napa is wrecked, and seeing that... was the
only thing that made me cry.
I have a long history with it.
It is a small castle made of yellow brown brick, with 4 huge tureen pots, (big lanterns), a scaled down Art Nouveau-ish-Art Deco-ish building that exists because of WPA. Inside the air is ancient, it is cold from the marble and slate, and the iron bars and rails are solemn.
I received love letters there, birthday presents from my long dead brother, stood in line for the latest stamps (writing snail mail required a properly matched stamp to one's stationary), stood in line to buy my Food Stamps in the 70s, and in the late 60s and early 70s, I marched in front with other peaceniks because it is a Federal Building, and therefore we did our patriotic duty to Stop the VietNam War, and by golly, we stopped it.
The newer 60s branch on Trancas was destroyed too.
I think some people feel about their church building the way I feel about the old Post Office buildings of the USA. They meant serious business..... getting the mail to us properly, on time, with efficiency and with a sense of patriotic purpose was very inspiring to me growing up.
I had faith in America. I will always despise former California Governor, and then the worst president of the 20th century, Ronald Reagan, that made a mockery and a shambles of faith in the US. As if America didn't have enough problems to solve, knocking the spirit of soulful camaraderie away from us in the 80s, is an unforgivable sin to humanity.
We needed to pull together as one unit, to solve racism, environmental destruction and to further the well-being of all of us on the planet. America is a sad divided country that hasn't been proactive about the national problems since the early 70s when we created the EPA, and stopped the war and the draft.
We are all raw right now. I do keep reliving the few moments in my bed, grasping my husband and yelling out of sheer fright and fear. He has never felt an earthquake, other than a small one, in the daytime. I've felt several, but they never really get "normal"!
He screamed What is happening? and I calmly replied We're in an earthquake.
As soon as the shaking stopped, or rather the jolts, we jumped out of bed in the dark and bolted out the door. He ran to check on our neighbor C. and I ran the other way to check on neighbor P.
In a few seconds all of our neighbors spilled out their doors and we began to ask each other if we were all OK. We all seemed to be. Our trailer park had escaped most damage except, we were to find out later, a few water mains broke leaving us without water for a few days off and on. Our power did the same.... off and on and off and on.
The gas lines are being checked today by PG &E, and let's hope they do a better job than what they did in San Bruno California, where their negligence incinerated a neighborhood.
We live in a fully contained vintage RV, a 1973 Winnebago. Some people laughed at us when we said we were gonna live in it full time. Other people gave us the high 5! Yes we are on the cutting edge here folks..... we're right in the beginning of a "Tiny House Movement", and 160 square feet of inside living space qualifies us. Most RV full timers are older retired people, and most people in my park are either middle age and on disability, or are struggling young families with low wage jobs.
4 homes here sustained damage. They are struggling to get their homes fixed up again with a tiny amount of money. Oh, the rich rich rich people of Napa Valley can just toss a few thousand out of their pockets, and all the problems caused by the earthquake, in my park will be solved.
So, us, being "of a certain age", and working full time, and a very nice job .... well, we are rather the odd duck of the park, of the demographic that lives full time in an RV, but not unusual if you consider us as living in a mobile home, but not the traditional mobile home...aka, a single or double wide, in a park, or out on rural land growing peaches and tending goats.
We really didn't sustain damage. An RV is made to move and shake and shudder! We have built-in everything, our cabinets lock shut and we have 12 volt systems, and if we run our generator, we have 110 power also. We lost a toaster oven that fell off the refrigerator, but, only because we didn't build the cabinet to hold it yet, so that's on the agenda. We should have had more water stored up, so we'll attend to that. We do have plastic dishes, and all the basic food and other necessities to last a week or 2 easy, although we should have more, we do live in a city so services and food won't be decimated for more than a few days.
Since our dog died in July, we didn't have a hurt pet to worry about, and it was very sad to have to hunt for our friends and neighbors beloved pets, that all did return in about a day of hiding in crevices and under foundations, totally scared out of their wits.
Our office was only a tiny bit messy, with a few objects that tumbled, gently it seemed, and a rack of clothes that rolled out and tipped. In friends homes we saw a lot of refrigerators that "walked" out towards the center of the kitchen, a lot of tipped dressers and open drawers and everybody's jewelry box dumped over! Glass, yes, if you had glass, it broke, some glass-fronted pictures and art, fell and broke, but I was amazed to see What Didn't Happen.
No one in my family here was hurt, but they are very nervous and somewhat afraid. The world doesn't seem so sweet right now, but we do know, that lots of love will help smooth the bumps of life.
I won't ever live anywhere else. This Coast of this continent on the Planet is my home. I am made of this soil, this air, this sun, these oak trees and these stones. My people are buried here, returning to the soil, from which they came.
Ashes and Dust.