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Where's Indi?

I was sorting through some photos today, and that gave me the idea for today's post. I thought I'd introduce you to where I live, it's kind of a "post-light," no deep thinky-thoughts, no ruminations on the meaning of life. Just a show and tell. Many of you that follow this blog live in the area, so this will all be familiar, but for those of you that have never heard of Amador County, population 35,000 (or so), this is for you.

I live in the small gold rush town of Sutter Creek, in the Sierra Nevada foothills, in northern California. As of April this year I've now been in this county for 25 years, which is just crazy! I've lived here longer than I've lived anywhere else in my life. The first town I lived in was Fiddletown, the population was around 200 or so when I moved there, I think it's even less now. And yes, that's a giant fiddle on the roof of the Fiddletown Community Center right in the middle of town. There's a fiddle festival every September.

When people ask how I ended up here, the short version is that my college roommate was from the area and that's how I got to know it, and then I came for 6 months to do research for graduate school, and then I never left.

This part of California is home to the Northern Me-wuk (Miwok) and they make up approximately 1% of the residents here today. It is also part of northern California's gold rush history. The town of Sutter Creek (population approx. 3,000) came about during that time and today it looks like you've walked onto a movie set. Many of the original buildings from the second half of the 1800's still line Main Street. The building on the far right houses Gallery 10, where I happen to have my altered books for sale.

Here are some highlights: we have an actual creek that goes through the center of town; we have the last working water-powered foundry and machine shop in America, newly restored after a huge community effort; we have a pretty sweet Parade of Lights every December, rain or shine, that is very much the epitome of small town living; and there are lots and lots of quiet backroads for exploring.

The weather here is cold in the winter and very hot (bleh) in the summer, with no rain from May to October on average (though we did just have a crazy rain storm with snow at lower elevations on Saturday!). Some years we get snow in Sutter Creek, but it usually doesn't last more than a day. (Go just an hour northeast and there's lots more snow, two hours and you're in Tahoe and the high Sierra.) Everything is gorgeously green in the spring but dry and brown in the summer. But the fall sunsets sure do light up the hills spectacularly.

Spring is amazing with flowers everywhere. Each year I take way too many pictures of flowers around town. The California state flower is the poppy (photo on the far right) and in a good rain year they are everywhere. There are lots of deer in the area, but they don't like daffodils, so you can see those all over the place in spring too. (far left photo).

Along with deer, we have lots of wildlife: turkeys, fox, mountain lion, bobcats redtail hawks, bears, turkey vultures, jackrabbits, and yes rattlesnakes too (see signpost in photo below). I've seen them all, except for a mountain lion. When I lived further up country we had a bear behind our house eating our garbage one night. Not a healthy diet, yuck. There are lots of cattle ranches in the area and so cow spotting is quite common as well. The hills are dotted with a handful of different native oaks: blue, black, live, valley, and poison (ha, yah, you have to be careful of that last one). And because we're up in the foothills above the central valley, we have some amazing sunsets.

And last but not least, the area is also known for it's grapes and wine, those that didn't find gold got smart and started growing food and making wine for the goldminers. There were only about 20 wineries when I moved here, now there are over 50. I've had the chance to help out on a couple harvests recently, and that was a lot of fun. I'm a total wine geek, so living here has helped fuel that interest for sure. Ask me about Rhone varietals from France, my favorites!

I could share so much more. But I'm going to leave it at that for now. It's quiet, charming, and quite picturesque, but there are the same challenges here that many rural areas struggle with, but I'll leave those for another time.

Thanks for joining me on this brief little tour. Let me know if you have any questions!

Till next week,



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