I should really set a novel in Bakersfield, CA, as the reality stretches beyond my imagination. It is a strange place, largely agricultural, but also an oil town, with at least one major refinery and many, many grasshopper pumps in the fields. I saw a pomegranate orchard for the first time. How many pomegranates do we really need? There are signs all along the highway, actually in the fields, complaining about the drought “caused by politicians,” as if, before agricultural water was restricted, there was no drought. I can’t even imagine that mindset. Drought? What drought? I have all the water I want, so everything must be fine. You’d have to be twelve years old to think like that, wouldn’t you? Or is that an insult to 12-year-olds?
Other signs ask, rhetorically, “Is growing food a waste of water?” Of course the answer depends on “which food?” If it’s alfalfa, to feed cattle, then, yes, an enormous waste. If it’s corn, to make ethanol, then yes, huge waste. Spinach and potatoes, no, we need those. Pomegranates, I’m not sure. I like them, but would the world be materially worse off if we didn’t have them?
I’m in East Bakersfield, the “good section” of town, or at least newer. Everything here is recently developed. The air smells very strongly of horse manure, that’s how “natural” it is out here. And a train runs somewhere nearby every couple of hours, wailing its horn. I enjoy that.
Unfortunately I have great difficulty understanding the dialect here, especially among the young people. I know it’s a variant of English, but I have to guess at most meanings. Nearly all consonants are weakened. A waitress asked if I wanted “cream-sure,” which I deduced was cream and sugar, with the “and” omitted and the “g” completely disappeared. I declined, just to be on the safe side. I know language evolves over time, but this is a hyper-evolution that’s leaving me behind.
I’m heading to Kingman, AZ (portal to the Grand Canyon), then home tomorrow. I notice it’s 108 degrees in Phoenix today. Must be Arizona.
I’m off now to start my day with my “free” breakfast of Cheerios, waffles! and screaming babies, with Fox News blaring on the TV.