IMG_5447I live in California.  Now before you get all excited, I am not blonde, and I do not have a tan.  I feel lucky to live here though.  The natural beauty in this state is astounding.  I love our mountains, forests and beaches.  All of those picturesque places that draw people from all around the world, are wonderful, but I have grown to love our flat, hot and dry central valley.

I am on a train as I write this traveling from Modesto to Hanford on the Amtrak San Joaquin.   As I look out the window, I am staring at a field of trees, some kind of nut I would guess.  I wouldn’t call it an orchard, as that brings to mind a kind of lush grassy area, where you could sit and have a picnic as you pluck an apple off the branch.  Or a little rendezvous under the trees.  No, these trees are IMG_5451surrounded by plain old brown dirt.  The really fine kind that has a way of getting into everything.  It is the kind of dirt that I remember from my childhood, that I could not stand.

The landscape reminds me so much of those pictures of the depression that you see.  The IMG_5458only green are the actual crops being grown, other than that, the dirt is brown, there is grass that by this time has reached a golden yellow color and the sky with its perpetual haze.   It is a beautiful place.

Not because of the scenery, but for the work and people who do it.  These are people who work hard, and produce crops.  There are a few nice houses scattered here and there, but most are just small ranch style homes.  They may have a little land around them with some fences to keep some goats, horses and cows.  Did I mention the cows?  There are lots of them along the way, lazily eating and getting their fill of that yellow grass.  These are places where the whole town will go to the Friday night football game, put their kids in FFA and work as hard as they can to bring in a good crop.  They are the migrant workers who work amazingly hard during the seasons.  Doing their jobs in the triple digit heat and trying to make a good life for themselves and their families.  They are regular people.  They do their job, love their children, go to church, invite their neighbors over to parties and birthdays.  They are the ones who will bring over some food, help out a friend or just sit and talk over a beer.  These are great people.

IMG_5452I am passing through Madera.  There are boarded up houses all along the tracks, as California gets ready to build their high speed rail.  I saw some of the work being done, but boy do they have a long way to go.  We just went past a long stretch of it.

There it is, this trestle rising up out of the farm land.  It IMG_5457reminds me of when I was a kid in San Jose and the 280/101 freeway interchange was only partially done.  The trestle’s rose out of nowhere and stayed that way for a good long time, or so it seemed to a small girl.

You see some of the most interesting things from a train.  It is not always the prettiest part of town, but it is definitely real.  I like real California