Small Mountain Town Births Big Dreams
My mystery book, The song of Jackass Creek, is set in a small town in the Sierra, not far from beautiful Yosemite. I lived there for about five years and published a popular local newspaper called the Timberline Times. And, in all my travels since then, I never forgot the rich and timeless culture of the town I call Redbud in the mystery.
Not a day went by when there wasn’t something to be grateful for because we lived in the midst of tall pines, bright blue skies untainted by city smog, quiet lakes and mountain trails to share with the wild animals of the Sierra. But fundamental to my fondness for the town was the people, an eclectic collection of misfits and mainstream Californians who chose to be away from the crowds and cacophony of city life.
This meant that Republicans and Democrats, Libertarians and those who favored secession from the State of California still shared a table at the one local café and enjoyed their coffee amicably. It meant that a guy could harbor some pretty-bigoted opinions but still embrace the minority he, in general, disliked, so long as that minority was a resident of Redbud. It was a place that fundamental Christians and hippie humanists accepted each other and nobody, but nobody was left broken down alongside the road.
There was, of course, a darker underbelly of this sanctuary in the Sierra and, as a publisher and writer in the region, I got a glance at that as well. My mystery novel touches on that dimension, usually having something to do with drugs and bar fights in the town’s only saloon that boasted it had the world’s largest urinal. And, as I imagine in my mystery book, an occasional murder.
My newspaper was focused on the beatitudes of our niche of the Sierra. I wrote about the loggers, the ranchers, the Native Americans and the old-time families whose ancestors had settled the mountain region. It was a forum for me to report the good news our specie is capable of producing. I figure we get a big dose of the bad news every day, whether we want it or not.
My career as journalist took me to some interesting adventures and I’ll be sharing those as well (hot air balloon racing, hunting for a lost plane in a deep mountain lake, dropping miles down in a tungsten mine, getting caught in the middle of a raging forest fire, and dining with a rattle snake hunter among them). The photo above is a billboard announcing the second paper I published - Just like the Timberline Times, but with a broad reach, throughout the Central Valley. And yes, I focused on the "Happy Ending." Don't we all need that now? More than ever?
Next blog I'll write about how foolish and risky a reporter can be - It was the hot air balloon race we clearly lost!
From under the cedars, watching for bears, breathing mountain air and being grateful for landing in the Sierra, till next thought hits me like a pine cone thrown by a giant squirrel, be safe, be smart and stick with me!
Thanks for your visit,