I didn't get this feeling that I was liked when we moved to Elk Creek. Well, I should say I knew that our employers, the ranch owners, liked us. For sure, they were going to come to adore us because we were the first caretaker managers that actually did anything. Yeah, the ranch owners were really sad to see us go.
But, honestly? The people who lived in Elk Creek and the area around there couldn't have given a hi howdy about us. Now I can say what I think and I'm really pretty sure we'll not be burning any bridges. No, we'll not be going back there. Ever.OK, the area folks were "friendly". Enough. But they were not welcoming. There's a difference. And I've written about this before. I've written that Marty said, "What do you expect? People don't live out here on the edge of nowhere because they're super social. They live out here because, for the most part, they are loners." And I believe that but I also felt a level of, how shall I say it, distance? To the point that I almost felt NOT welcome. When Marty and I would talk we would postulate something along the lines of "Well, we did take away a job from a local." That certainly would not endear us to the local people who are having a hard time making ends meet.
Now I know how Mexicans feel when they go to, say, Marshalltown, Iowa (my hometown) and take a yucky job at Montrose, the local meat packing plant and they get attitude from the local Marshalltonians. It's rude and not right. I could say to an Elk Creekian, "Dude, if you could pass a background check maybe you could have the job." There's a sense that they feel entitled even though they are not qualified. People. Hmmmpfh.I think if we had bought property out there they may have accepted us more. Just more. Not totally. Because there are the folks we did get acquainted with who would say things like "I'm still a newcomer. I've only been here 20 years." I'm sure there's a feeling of "Well, they won't last so why bother getting to know them or even giving them the time of day much less be welcoming?" Don't you know that your reticence contributes to people taking off out of there when they get fed up?
It took me 4 years and I finally made one real friend. Anna Dearing. And then within 6 months of getting to know her she passed away. She was 88 years old. She was the only real friend I made in 4 years. Even Anna herself said "The people in Paskenta are much nicer than the people in Elk Creek." (Paskenta is a half hour drive over back country gravel roads from Elk Creek.) Anna had lived in the Elk Creek area for more than 30 years. Maybe they considered her a newcomer, too.So it's really nice to experience being welcomed into a community. We haven't been here but 2 months and I already am going to be an art teacher for the Madera County Arts Council. When I call Sherril Royce, who runs the program, she greets me with "Hey, You!"
Alma gives a yoga class at Thrive Fitness and she invited me to a get-together at her house and she doesn't even know me from Adam. Just from the yoga class. The neighbors are great, too. Hector, Jaime and his wife, Gustavo and Heidi and her husband.
Madera may be hot in summer but it's pretty cool. I think this is going to be a little bit of all right.