I was born in a town I secretly call the Devil’s Oven. For four years the sun baked us in a drought that turned the rolling hills of California into the color of yellow wheat. My parents immigrated to Fresno, CA from Mexico for better opportunities in the eighties, and thirty years later, we continue to thrive in our desert valley despite its encapsulating air. It is an ideal valley for raising a family, a place to marvel at the seasons turning, but after all these years I find myself realizing that I never really contemplated having a family of my own. I love people, above all children, but the need to freely observe the world still compels me to get away and end up in corners of California.
Everything lays within the reach of my baking valley, and days where the sun burns are perfect excuses to literally get the hell out of there. A couple of hours on the highway can take my friends to the wonders of L.A., San Francisco, Monterrey or Morro Bay. I prefer a quick cruise down a country lane, something that takes me an hour out of the valley and into the lakes of the Sierra Nevadas. The further I travel the country roads, the colder and clearer the snow melt waters become. I end up in these lakes for the baptism they offer, these gems of the landscape that come complete with their own giant pine tree guards.
I like the way the snow water freezes my lungs and clears my mind. The holy waters in the altars of Yosemite are little more than an hour away from my valley; the highway that leads directly there are a mere five minutes from our house. I live for the moments that I can be gone to the world but known to nature. I end up visiting the corners of my state alone, I am in love with these private communions. Later in time, I share the beautiful places I find with the children in my life, so they can be filled with the same sense of awe and adventure.
I want to spend the rest of my life falling in love with California. But the world is so much bigger than this valley, and Australia has been my secret yearning, for Australia is the land of the first men, the land where the rainbow snake created the world in a dream. When I see photos Karijini National Park, I can believe that the world was created through dreams that knew no bounds. When I hear the stories of the first men, I am filled with the love that connects all people no matter time or space. I experience so much beauty when I venture out of the Devil’s Oven, and I can’t wait to see where I end up next.