When I was little we’d go to Disneyland once, maybe twice a year. Living a few miles from The Happiest Place on Earth is something most will never know — fireworks from the park were visible during summer nights, and the Mark Twain riverboat’s whistle could be heard during the quieter parts of the day, usually around dusk and in the mornings. I used to take it for granted, but not anymore.
There was an expansive strawberry field just to the west of the park. Even as a child, it amazed me how built up Anaheim was with the exception of this little corner of my town. Sure enough, during the late ’90s the family who had owned it for decades finally sold it — for tens of millions of dollars. In its place stands a parking deck, a parking lot, a myriad of stores, gluttonous restaurants and vendor kiosks selling everything from jewelry to caramel corn, from glow in the dark bracelets to caricature drawings. I miss the strawberry field. Its absence is somewhat depressing.
On my way to work, I pass another depressing spot: a massive cemetery. I’ve never really wrapped my head around death, as I tend to exercise extreme avoidance in my life until I simply can’t anymore. The only thing, however, that could be more depressing than a cemetery in plain view is the death of something else: yet another strawberry field bit the dust in recent weeks.
Vast, fruit-bearing fields full of life, hard work, patience and dedication are disappearing before my eyes. Generations before mine were devoted to them, caring for them week in and week out, through the seasons and across the years. Whether the lure of the almighty dollar got the best of them or perhaps because times just got too tough to be able to sustain lives by holding onto it, the fields are going the way of the dodo. The only life they’ll have is the one that lives on in our memories.
Seasons change and nothing lasts forever — except death, taxes and PVC, that is. The strawberry fields of Orange County are catching up to the orange groves which also used to be plentiful in these parts — and by “catching up” I mean they’re fading fast. Though beautiful in my mind, their disappearance is a good reminder to take note of that which we appreciate in our lives — the people, a city street, a small town storefront — because someday it will probably all be gone.