My parents moved to Running Springs to a) escape society b) commune with nature
And so, I grew up there in a quaint little cabin nestled among the peacocks. Yes, my parents had peacocks, owls, alligators, skunks, basically any "pet" you could think of, due to loose county ordinances and the whole rebel-to-society-meets-hippy-communing-with-nature-meets-crazy-recluse thing.
I grew up in a small town of about 5,000 people at 6,000 feet above the smoggy, crowded, urban sprawl of the Inland Empire and Los Angeles. Going "down the hill" to the city was something to be avoided at all costs, put off until a medical specialist appointment was imminent, or if we needed some odd contraption from Home Depot to use to control the wolves- pet wolves.
A small mountain town such as mine truly shaped me as who I am today. Sure, we weren't living in one of those small, fly-in only towns in bush Alaska, but to your normal Angelino used to three Starbucks, seven ethnic restaurants, two Gaps, and seventeen fast food joints in sight, and concrete jungles abound, my town was pretty "hick" and remote. I mean, to see a doctor, buy clothes or toys, buy or register a car, basically do anything, you have to drive thirty minutes to an hour to do it, all the way down a winding road to the city. We get bears in the garbage, mountain lions in the yard, and six-foot-deep snowstorms with 115 mph winds, and this is "normal". My husband and I just laughed as we passed movie star Ron Perlman on his way to the posh grocer's; we role=played my husband on a conference call, "yeah, executive co-workers, Ron and I hate how slow Richard Dreyfuss drives on the way up the mountain, yes, Rom Perlman and Rich- crap- gotta go there's a mountain lion outside my window and I smell smoke".
Yes, our little mountain burns down. A lot. Slide fire, Old Fire, nameless fires that evacuated my family in the 80's and 90's.... living among drought-ridden timber and a bunch of crazed people nearby spells disaster. As you watch the news coverage from afar, seeing familiar places burn, you shed some tears as your lovely forest and town turn to ash.
Yet, you return. We say, if you survive a year up here, you will never leave. The mountain either scares you away in moments...I mean, OMG everything is so far away! You have to learn to cook and start a fire and shovel snow! You should own a weapon in case of wildlife attack or because there are at most six sheriffs for 135 square miles, with a holiday-vistors plus regular-resident population swelling up over 85,000 people! You have to deal with rock slides and very very dense fog and huge snowstorms and crazy fast Santa Ana Winds! And there's only one Starbucks and no malls whatsoever!!!!
Yet, you return to the idyllic towering pines and quiet solitude. Some people even commute two to three hours each way to the city just to come home here. And as much as I hated begin a teen up here (I was the OMG no starbucks or mall? type girl sometimes), I came back.