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Disasters Can Happen

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Californiaby MN Gordon

Economic Prism

Something rather strange is going on.  Ten year Treasury yields and gold are simultaneously envisaging inflation and deflation.  Yields on the ten year Treasury note have jumped from 1.98 percent to 2.34 percent during the last 30 days.  Gold’s price, on the other hand, has dropped about $100 an ounce during this same time.

Who’s right…Treasury yields or gold?  Will there be inflation or deflation?

These were the questions that faded from our thoughts as we traversed east along the 60 freeway from Los Angeles to Oak Glen last Saturday.  The answers seemed to matter less and less the further the urban sprawl receded behind us.

Oak Glen, located just past the outer limits of Southern California’s sea of concrete, is a world apart.  The air is clean and crisp at its mile high elevation.  The locals are relaxed and amiable…not frenetic and mad.

There are no stoplights or franchise drive-thrus.  Billboards and transmission lines do not blight the landscape.  These, and other aesthetic eye lacerations, end with the wide Euclidean Boulevards in the valley below.

The built milieu hardly scars the natural environment.  Just a windy narrow mountain road extends upward.  Apple orchards fill the gentle slopes that are nestled between the larger and steeper topographic terrain.

Experiences We Relish

No one really knows why Enoch Parrish settled in Oak Glen when he arrived in 1866.  Perhaps it was because he was able to trade four mules and a wagon for 160 acres of land.  No paper notes were needed in the transaction.

The going was rough at first for Parrish.  He spent his first decade rolling around in the dirt, farming spuds.  Potatoes were a cash crop he could quickly bring to market.  In the meantime, however, Parrish planted the area’s first apple orchard.  He just had to wait 10 years for the trees to mature and produce viable fruit.

By 1876, Parrish opened The Glen’s first apple orchard.  The zesty fruits were an immediate hit.  For they were unique to Southern California at the time.  The basin valleys were too warm for apples and were primarily producing citrus.  The cooler mountain climate was perfect for apples, yet still in proximity to sell to the booming flatlander population below.

Soon the Wilshire family and the Rivers brothers followed with apple orchards of their own.  These modest apple orchards changed the face and fortune of the area to the present.  Los Rios Rancho – The Rivers Ranch – is still in operation today.  In fact, many of the original apple orchards and ranches from their early development over 100 years ago are still in operation.

Fresh apple cider, apple butter, and baked apple pies are sold from small family stands and farmhouse restaurants.  Sweet smells of BBQ and bakeries are emanated to the air.  Only a small fraction of the 22 million inhabitants of Southern California know this place exists.  Of these, an even smaller fraction would bother to make the trek so far off the beaten path.  Indeed, these are the experiences we relish.

California 2Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

We came to Riley’s Farm in Oak Glen on Saturday for some olde tyme family fun.  We had plenty of it.  We picked apples with the kids, ate roasted corn, drank sarsaparilla, and watched the sun slip beyond a western ridge from an old handcrafted wooden chair.

When the stars twinkled high and the temperatures fell low we were delighted with a harvest celebration feast and merriment at the Hawk’s Head Tavern, a candle-lit colonial public house.  Farm fresh removes of pumpkin soup, Sally Lunn bread, apple cheddar muffins, corn pudding, bubble and squeak, English roast beef, apple dumplings, and an abundance of hot spiced cider were served.

During the extended harvest feast, the Riley’s Farm Theatre Company brought the jovial revelers back to the American colonies of the 1770s.  The original composition included a lively drama featuring, historical protagonist, Samuel Lane of Stratham, New Hampshire.  Lane, a farmer and shoemaker, wrote down his blessings in a journal each year, leaving historians a rich window into the life of a colonial tradesman.

Live 18th century fiddle music, dancing, and even an old colonial dual were had.  Several fireplaces radiated warmth and glow trough the tavern.  We tried our hand in the tomahawk throwing contest, though we didn’t have much luck.  Despite the loud bellow we let out when we let it fly, the axe head did not stick into the target of stacked logs.  We were abruptly eliminated from the contest.

Pewter tankards were raised and toasts were made.  Not a word of the war between inflation and deflation was heard.  No mentions of the fraud of fractional reserve banking or legal tender laws were uttered.  Instead, offerings of gratitude and blessings were shared.  Here’s one the fellow at the table next to ours gave…

“May your glass be ever full.  May the roof over your head be always strong.  And may you be in heaven a full half-hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”

Hear, hear!

[MN Gordon (send him email) is the editor of the Economic Prism.  Visit Economic Prism.  The Economic Prism is published by Direct Expressions LLC.  Subscribe Today to the Economic Prism E-Newsletter at http://www.economicprismletter.com]

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