Salad Bowl to the World

Today I drove the length of the Salinas Valley. I don’t have any photos, or even anything really coherent to say about it, but I always feel a deep sense of love as I drive through Paso Robles, San Miguel, San Ardo, San Lucas, King City, Greenfield, Soledad, Gonzales, Chualar, Salinas, Prunedale, then cross the Pajaro River into the Santa Clara Valley, and up through Gilroy, San Martin, Morgan Hill and into San José. The fields are such varied colors, the hand-painted signs by John Cerney show such affection for the people and the crops, the billboards unapologetically advertise farm equipment. Where the land isn’t irrigated, or is the least bit hilly (usually the same thing) the landscape is the timeless California scene of golden grass and dark oaks, but the flatlands sport vineyards (more every year) or lettuce or onions or broccoli. Weirdly-shaped trucks and tractors drive by, stacked with boxes, or holding their spraying arms up in the air like wings. School buses filled with farmworkers pull their outhouses along behind, the sides plastered with labor law posters. There are walnuts in Greenfield, cherries in Gilroy. Even the Crown Royal whiskey ads reference the rodeo. The rest stops down by Camp Roberts are being refurbished; where is the money coming from? The historical markers reinforce that this is the route people have been following for centuries: Mission San Miguel, Mission San Antonio de Padua (why did they leave the river valley and veer off by so many miles?), Mission Soledad, Mission San Juan Bautista. The renewed bells of El Camino Real remind me of my childhood way at the south end of the royal road.

One Response to “Salad Bowl to the World”

  1. akabini Says:

    Mmm… I can smell the crispy leaves of those oaks right now!
    The thing I miss most about the California landscape.

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Working to build a local, sustainable food system in San José