As colorful as spring wildflowers: the people of Tehachapi
April 16, 2022
At the Walmart checkout I was talking to a man who has lived in Tehachapi most of his life. A delightful man, with stories about his gardening that a recent transplant like myself would find helpful.
After he'd scanned his groceries and paid, he stayed next to me, still chatting. A young employee came over and asked him to move along to help the flow.
He smiled and told her, "That's okay, this is a country store, and this is how we do it in the country."
I appreciated the sentiment. Do we really need to move so quickly, potentially missing some of the important things in life? Life is short, and I see a lot of signs that locals feel the same, regardless of the current events of the moment.
I have a healthy attitude of gratitude, including the generosity of the people of Tehachapi, whose wisdom can save a newbie lots of money on necessities like water, propane and solar, not to mention all the other substantial shifts you make to live in the country.
I was startled a few days ago when a guy I'd never seen pulled up next to me in his Jeep and asked if I needed help. I was parked on the shoulder of a quiet road having a phone conversation and he wanted to make sure I was okay, nothing more. For someone who's always lived down south, I was surprised and grateful.
We met a retired guy who loves this area so much, he uses his tractor to smooth out the dirt roads after a rain for himself and his neighbors, just for the sheer joy of it.
I even got yelled at in town and didn't mind: when I was waiting in a drive-thru, the car in front didn't move forward when it was their turn at the speaker. I gave a quick beep. This shook him from his concentration on his phone – it happens to all of us – and he flailed his arms at me and then moved forward.
Then when it was his turn to go to the pick-up window, again he didn't move. This time he looked at me in his side mirror and said, "Aren't you going to honk again?" I said, "Why would I?" "Because you did it before..." and he said some things I don't remember. When I said, "Have a nice day," he said, "Don't tell me what kind of day to have!"
I felt bad that he would get knocked off his center so easily over something so trivial, although it says something about Tehachapi that he felt safe enough to insult someone he's never met and not worry about potential consequences you might read about in a bigger city. It's not a crime to be grumpy, but we won't escalate it, either.
Besides, who knows what profound issues he's dealing with in his personal life? What if he had just lost his wife, like the nice 80-year-old man who came over last week to see which internet router would work best on our land. This man had been married longer than I've been alive and now his beloved wife is no longer there when he comes home. Unfathomable pain, and here he is driving up Sand Canyon to see which router works best here like everything's normal, and it's not at all.
Maybe because my father passed a few months ago, I'm especially sensitive to this. I offer my own bruised heart to my mother for when she needs to talk about the profound loneliness of losing my dad and the constant ache of mourning him... it's almost too much to bear.
If my mother yelled at someone in a drive-thru, I would hope it would be at someone with some savvy, some compassion – and not a hair trigger. What people do has zero do with us, but how we respond has everything to do with us.
With four seasons, Tehachapians live closer to nature and therefore closer to their true nature, making them very authentic. From my perspective they are in full bloom and have earned their colors.
Scott Ware and his life partner Maria Lomeli live peacefully in Sand Canyon on their property. Maria is a Reiki Master and Scott is a publisher and a writer. Email Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org.