Apple Blossom Smoke Clouds The Big Parade

Are we selling Sonoma County's visual identity?
For a price fixed by the whims of the upwardly affluent wine-drinking public, our heritage views, our visual daily drive-bys are being ripped up and replaced by the economic vue d'jour.

Cherry Ridge Road has, or had, a scene that's become all too common. Acres of apple trees had been up-rooted from the soft spring soil, piled into reaching silhouettes, poised for burning. It was the last March for these steadfast old trees, an heirloom view of my everyday.

And the blossoms were almost there for The 52nd Annual Apple Blossom Parade.
But with white-pink flowers still sprouting from the skeletal branches, they were burnt, the green hills east of Santa Rosa as a beautiful backdrop for the whirling gray, apple-incense smoke. The vineyards across the road are waiting to move in and line up, so tidy, almost sterile in their own rows.

I'll miss those trees.
The orchards had a softer effect on my eye.
They weren't so identical in their outstretched arms. There's a more comforting character in the trunks.
They wanted kids to climb them, otherwise it wouldn't be such an easy tree to get into... Grapes growing the way they are mass-produced now almost look like a military formation. Goose-stepping rigidly into the stainless steel tanks.

So you can decry the inherent problems of a monoculture agriculture. The money is now in grapes. Everyone wants their own "vignette". It wasn't always that story.
Not too long ago we were hoping agriculture could somehow, miraculously, save the land from looming "Santa Clara-zi-za-tion". It's only through the shiny coin from wine that housing came in second.

The same change came upon the hops.
Do you point out the distinctive Hop Kilns to kids as you drive. Are you now going to tell about riding your bike through the orchards, riding fast, sweating... the breeze cool in the shade of those trees... Or taking a walk with your sugar through the orchards in the dimming, light blue evening.

There's something to be said for such heirloom views... On O'Farrell Hill, the rise making the eastern entrance of Freestone, a line of cedars have been planted. There's a vineyard and room for more on the hill rolling up above the row.

There's also a special view of Mt. St. Helena that'll soon be gone. It will be blocked by a cute row property boundry trees. What will those of us who travel this road most every day end up watching... a cedar hedge?
There go the snows of Mt. St. Helena.
Isn't there space for heritage views?

The spots people consider special to Sonoma County? I get real tired of the verbal clatter about how this is such a great place. It's used in every tourism and "relocate your biz here" brochure. So maybe it's time to get down to earth about all this.

Keep some character, some heritage views.
Put your planning decisions where incessant cute phrases lie.
The view is the reflection of ourselves... And it's more than just seven years bad luck if you crack this mirror.



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