Touch It and See What Happens

I live in Forest Ranch surrounded by hundreds of tall pine and beautiful gnarly oak trees.

It’s very beautiful and peaceful and very nice and quiet with lots of open space all around us. From our house you can’t see any other manmade objects. All you can see is nature surrounding us. I love it very much all through winter, spring, summer and fall.

But speaking of fall, come October and November the leaves fall by the hundreds of thousands, which is also very beautiful.

The first few years living in the mountains I didn’t think much about all the leaves falling and collecting into a half a foot thick carpet of leaves on our property. I thought they’d just decompose and become good fertilizer.

But a few summers ago when the fires ravaged thousands of acres of the foothills surrounding us, Cal Fire came by and told me that I’d better get busy and rake up the tons of leaves and get rid of them off our property because they are a fire hazard and could cause a ground fire.

In 1972 I moved out of LA not only to get away from the congestion, the chaos and the hustle and bustle of the city but also to get out of the bad air quality.

I never dreamed that someday Chico and the surrounding air quality would be just as bad as LA is due to all the burning that’s done in Butte County. So, I felt I couldn’t add to it by burning the leaves that fall all over our property.

Instead I put a very large tarp on the ground and raked the leaves up onto it and dragged the tarp with the leaves on it a few hundred feet away onto what once was a dump.

There, the leaves become mulch and don’t contribute to the bad air quality of Butte County.

Believe it or not, leaves can weight a lot. I don’t mind the labor and the exercise to do the work. The problem is, besides a lot of trees and leaves up in the foothills, there is something else that grows wild like crazy. No, I’m not talking about marijuana. I’m talking about poison oak. It grows like there’s a poison oak farm up here. Which isn’t bad looking. It’s actually kind of pretty with the shiny read and green leaves and pretty little flowers. It’s healthy and happy and strong.

The only problem is what happens to me after I accidentally touch poison oak which I do every time. The next day my skin itches and burns like crazy and I can’t help but scratch and scratch and scratch it some more until my skin is red and raw.

Even in my sleep I scratch it until it sweats and bleeds and gets worse and worse until I promise myself that I’ll be sure to never touch any poison oak again for the rest of my life.

But then pretty soon, time goes by and pretty soon the leaves are falling again and pretty soon I forget about the poison oak and I’m out there raking up the leaves again and pretty soon I’m itching and scratching like crazy all over again.

Maybe it’s something like a women told me about giving birth, “At the time, it was the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced but after a while, I forget and pretty soon another baby is on the way.”

Naa, it couldn’t be that. I must just need a better pair of glasses.

And here come the leaves.


About Sr Felipe

I grew up in East LA, was drafted into the army and sent to Vietnam as a medic with the 1st Cav from 1966-1967. I survived that, came back to LA, went to East LA College and Cal State LA, became a social worker in Ventura, CA and moved up to Chico, CA in 1975. I started Sr Felipe's Salsas making organic salsa, enchilada, BBQ and pasta sauce that was available in natural food stores nationwide from 1980-2005. I've been doing a radio show on KZFR, Chico, 90.1 FM every Tuesday from 7:30-10:00 PM streamed live on where I play oldies from the 50s & 60s, doo-wop, Latin, folk, country and Gospel music and interview interesting people in the community. For the past three years I've been teaching beginning guitar through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute through Chico State University.
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