I met Virginia Loperena in typical small town fashion. Norma Watkins belongs to the Writers of the Mendocino Coast. Norma and I belong to the same writers group where we often talk of the quirkiness of Fort Bragg. Norma suggests I contact Virginia about a poem she wrote about our town and presented to the writers club.
In a roundabout way, I already know Virginia. She is linked to Jasper Henderson, a young man who went to school with my daughter. My daughter is friends with Virginia on Facebook.
I contact Virginia through Facebook and she is delighted to share her poem. I meet with her the day before she is scheduled to leave Fort Bragg for an adventure that will start by returning to her hometown of Coney Island, New York.
Virginia went to Harvard where, among other things, she met Jasper. After graduation, they ventured to Anchor Bay where his father lives. A few months later, they decided that area was too isolated and moved to Fort Bragg. In her two years here, she worked as the Marketing and Development Director of the Noyo Food Forest and as an Administrative Assistant and Data Base Manager for the Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County.
It took time for her to adjust to life on the Mendocino Coast. “I was surprised that so many people know one another. When I was out with Jasper, he’d always run into someone he knew. At first, I’d stand aside, feeling like a Martian envoy. But it didn’t take long before I became known. I like going to places like Headlands and running into people I know.”
Virginia loves the natural beauty of the area and the preponderance of what she calls “Hippy Stuff”—organic food, Fair Trade, non-GMO food. She recognizes that we’re a passionate community. People rally for protection of the ocean and the whales, and rail against devastating forestry practices. “People having a pet cause makes for an engaged community.”
Virginia also found things that she doesn’t like about living on the Mendocino Coast. It’s very isolated—at least three hours from the bustling urban city of San Francisco. She is also disheartened by the recent rise of a small vocal group of negative people. “They can sap the energy and joy out of living here. In a large city, these voices are like white noise. Here they’re hard to drown out. The rumor mill can quickly get out of hand. It’s not based on fact and becomes a scary thing for those who are targets of rumors.”
I wish Virginia well in her future endeavors and thank her for her contributions to our community and, of course, my blog.
Ode to Fort Bragg in Autumn
By Virginia Loperena
It’s six-thirty and the world has ended.
No, really. The sky has darkened to
Black, like ink, or strong coffee.
Speaking of coffee, at the coffeeshop
(We’re taking Headlands)
They play live music nightly.
The waiting list is a moon’s turn.
The moon is not risen
But will be a waxing gibbous
Tonight. The artist is a local man
Who plays jazz while I drink
Local! Port! Wine!
O, Fort Bragg, land of Laurel Street,
Of loquacious signage!
Tonight, the musician will begin his set at seven.
The sun begun its set
Over an hour ago.
We patrons are all tired and reading books.
Talking local politics,
A character we call Karl Marx discusses
A local County Supervisor
“He’s a phony. A phony!
Gladhanding around town,
Calling himself an Avatar.”
The coffeeshop, at this hour,
In this month
(November, just past Daylight
Savings, when the cold begins to set in,
But the leaves and rain remain
Indifferent to the season’s turn),
The night is so black.
Who would take their coffee
Or their reasonably priced port
At this dark hour?
There are no tourists left
To marvel at this quaint coastal town,
And gawk at the glassy beaches,
And kick back trendy microbrew.
Even the locals evaporate
Burnt out like afternoon fog.
My lover, a poet, says,
“They’ve all gone home
To put their animals away.”
O, Fort Bragg!
This lunacy, this love affair
Is delicious. O Karl Marx!
The universe is, indeed, “full of things.”
I do believe in gravity, in energy fields,
In the consciousness of Redwoods.
In syncing my menstrual cycle with the moon-mother!
In Mercury, in retrograde,
In the magick of this early falling night.
I absolutely love this…both of them. Bye, Virginia. I hope you will come back lots. love, zida
Life in a small town does take some adjustments. Lovely poem – thanks for sharing!
I was especially moved by her comments about what she doesn’t like — “small vocal group of negative people.”