by Patrick Frost
It’s hard to believe that she and I actually lived in a time of disbelief, or even denial. We were commuters once. We lived in separate apartments for years, six years actually. I remember stressing over my lack of retirement savings. Or having the right car for my personality, and knowing about the best restaurant to go to. The Hook and Ladder on S and 17th was pretty good, they served house-made pasta; and Tres Hermanas on K and 24th was the best.
It was four years ago when we, Sierra and I, saw an ad in the classifieds on his website. I kept it with me, the printout, I had all of the local postings printed, but I held onto this one after we decided to go live there. I still have it today, and for nostalgia’s sake, I’ll write it out, verbatim, here (editorial note: this ad has been removed by request of the poster):
Hiya – We live in Colfax in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California…and have a place for safe harbor and respite in this world going dark. We are close to I-80 and the American and Bear Rivers with a small permaculture inspired farm and a rewilding project. We live as participants in the community of life here with a “live like you’re camping” ethic and are efforting to do what we can to give back to the natural world that has endured so much on our behalf. Our door is open to those choosing to see. We grow food, make music, create art, speak truth, and effort to find the creature born wild and free in us but taught that they weren’t.
There are two incredibly unique properties very near us (walking distance) that have recently come onto the market…and we just thought we’d share about them in the event anyone has some privilege they are wanting to be radical with. (We quit our jobs, cashed out everything we could, and pulled on every string to make our current set of living arrangements happen.) Both these properties could accommodate community living and we would love to have others around us who are choosing to see. The price tags are big (sticker shock likely to those of you not in CA) but actually quite reasonable by CA standards for what these properties have to offer. The one on the top of the mountain with 360 degree views as far as you can see brought us to tears it’s so breathtaking and the other could be a Bed and Breakfast (if running a “business” is still of interest to anyone here at the end of the game – NTHE B&B?)
Anyways, we’ve made a start – earlier than most people and groups – and perhaps we have some contribution to make.
Here are the links to our neighboring properties:
Anyway, just wanted you all to know we are here, with a place. Come visit if the mood strikes… With love and rage! Karen and Jordan Perry, Chickenfoot Ranch ReWilding, firstname.lastname@example.org
Living on the Ranch was nice. It took some time to get used to the people there. Sierra and I lived down in the valley our whole lives, apartment living. City breathing. It was much different living up the hill. It hardly snowed, and when it rained, it was sunny and warm for days on end, then the sky would quickly turn and it would rain for maybe half days at a time, once in a while. We would gather our rain the best we could, secretly, our tanks would be inside sheds and we would have vegetation roofs that looked like there was wood underneath them, we would irrigate with that water best we could.
I remember the abrupt change. It was the wildest thing, and unless I had seen it, all of my imagination couldn’t have painted any kind of a similar portrait. Our communication was non-existent near the end of our time on the Ranch. When the cities began to revolt, it was monitored, but when the cities began to organize that is when we heard things finally took a malicious turn. San Francisco was the first to become occupied. I remember Operation Jade Helm, the military exercises done in mid- 2015; Special operations forces practicing hostile takeovers of civilian cities and states. Utah and Arizona were the first states that were used as a practice ground. I remember reading about that in April of that year, and thinking it was just a training regiment.
First it was San Francisco, then it was Sacramento, Berkeley and then finally Oakland. Camps were being set up for our safety. Water was flown in, trucked in, food was provided. Shots were mandatory for everyone who entered the Safe Camps. And the camps were ordered for everyone.
And then they came for us. We all knew it was coming. There weren’t many of us on the Ranch left. Most tried to go live off of what was by now almost all dead or dying land, dried out and lifeless alkaline forest, further up into the Sierras.
The last time I saw Sierra she was on my lap. I was sitting cross-legged by our small plot of arugula, one of the few seeds that still grew quite prolific at the Ranch, and kale. I had my arms around her waist and I was slowly kissing her neck. I played with her long hair, it was as long as I had ever seen it. She kissed me back. I was running my hands up her dark brown shirt and she was breathing warmly, and hard.
They came in fairly, friendly. They wanted to take us for our own good. They were there to help, they told us. Sierra asked kindly if we could stay. They gave us an understanding response, but informed us that it was mandatory that we leave with them to the city. Sierra looked down at me, still on my lap with her legs wrapped around me. She smelled like a three-week-old shirt, and her eyes glistened white and were the kind of reflective that only happens right before she was about to cry. She kissed me and whispered her love into my ear with such a sincerity that I could and never will be able to recreate.
When Sierra pushed off of me, I was startled. With one step she was behind me and had her hand on a small, steel gardening shovel. I had never seen her do a violent thing in my life. When she dug the tiny spade into the gentleman’s neck she was shot immediately by his partner, and I was taken, after my many years on the Ranch, down the hill back to Sacramento.
Patrick Frost is self-conscious of writing his own bio for this short story. But he plunges on, thusly: “I am 35 years old and still very much suspicious as well as drunkenly interested in life. I get depressed. But I also get really happy. Though, most of my time I spend being very mellow. At 35, I’ve learned how to roast coffee over a fire using a cast iron dutch oven and a wooden spoon. Also at 35, I’ve learned about the very real possibility, or inevitability, of near-term human extinction (NTHE).”
“I live in Sacramento, California. Midtown, more specifically. I live within walking distance from a dozen or more liquor stores, countless restaurants, homeless folks, bars, Victorian homes, new stadiums, hipsters, and marijuana dispensaries. Such is the current state of industrial civilization. My good friend was married not more than a month ago, and another was stabbed six blocks from my house. If I’ve learned anything at 35, it’s that I’m having a hard time dealing with my own obscurity. It’s given me an anxiety I’ve never felt before in my calm life. I hope it’s just a phase, ‘cause I want to start truly living.