West County, you really have it going on. When the sun’s light hits your apple orchards, the towns become lightly perfumed, genuinely sweeter; often it’s beams are softened and obscured by the coastal clouds.
You are the only place where I have been greeted, chauffeured and bid adieu by reused material that’s eager to please, tucked away in unfamiliar crevices kissed by the westerlies. The communal sensibility of your inhabitants supports growth and exploration without ever concerning itself with onlookers’ attempt at claiming you were once pigeonholed. I have seen members of your third to last generation meet in a rundown gym, pin apple-shaped nametags on each others’ chests; every so often two would cry in each others arms as together they grew older, week by week. The rest of the crowd offered no response beyond comfortable milling over the worn wooden floor.
Your towns are quaint enough to occupy the space between shrunken apples baked into a pie and its top crust. Even the highway that connects your towns totes the name “Bohemian” out of respect for the powerfully unconventional. It contours the sometimes moist (sometimes dry) land scattered with moss rocks and dangles from Sebastopol to Freestone; just a mention will cause locals to immediately recall the taste of the best freshly baked bread they have ever eaten.
Keep following it out to the beaches that line our charming span of the Pacific, or pierce the fog veil and wind your way to Occidental among the wise evergreen furs.
West County, please continue doing what you have always done.
Jamie Payne is a freelance guitarist and SRJC student whose paintings can be seen at JamesPayneful.tumblr.com.
Open Mic is a weekly feature in the ‘Bohemian.’ We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write [email protected].