El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Ana Nita

“I live in an agricultural area and appreciate the peace and quiet for which I am entitled,” stated the letter Moreno Valley resident Billi-Jo Swanson sent in 2015 to Mark Wardlaw, the Director of the Planning & Development Services with the county of San Diego. Swanson lived in this Lakeside valley since the early 1960’s and is protesting against a new on-going sand mining project on its way to be approved right across from her home.

What is Shakespearian Katharina, aka “The Shrew,” doing in the middle of a twenty first century brewery house, bikes parked outside, a “Falstaff Brewery” sign hanging from the ceiling, high bar stools weathered by talkative surfers, what is this woman doing here wearing an English checkered belt up dress hanging just bellow her knees barely covering the top of her riding boots, hair mocking a half up princess hair do, frosted spikes and all? And yes, eyeglasses falling off her nose. She is being tamed, that’s what’s happening.

Have you ever wondered where is the fish coming from and what is the process of stocking a lake, so the fishermen will enjoy throwing the bait and actually catching something? I wanted to go watch the event at Lake Jennings for over an year now and I finally made it last Thursday, when I set up the alarm for 4:30 a.m. and met Kira Haley, the recreation manager at the lake, coffee in hand (her), camera ready (me), eyes wide open (none of us yet).

If the Israelites of the Bible would have done anything to find their way out of the desert, it appears that Californians are predisposed once a year to take the opposite route and are flocking in record numbers on all the backwards exodus roads to see the desert blooms this Spring.

For the adventurer at heart, there is a magic place right into the deepest folders of El Cajon Mountain, on a trail that not many know about, that takes the wondering souls up to a spring hidden behind old oak trees and huge boulders splintered down from the majestic peak.

The song runs repetitive, with words like silver charms sweetly dangling in the wind waiting to take a turn for stormy tonalities with stronger vibrancy and that’s when you see the women willowing more and the crescendo of the male voices and the body motion grow together to tell a story. This is a thousand years old traditional Native American ceremony called “The Bird Songs” of the same style as in Pai Pai Country, all the way to Arizona and Mojave desert,  up to the Grand Canyon and down in Mexico.

It’s already dark and the rain is grouchily banging on the windows with cold, restless fingers while the Starbucks I assume more cheerful in the morning staff is moping the floor now, counting the minutes until the closing times. We still have three hours and I reckon that’s plenty of time to get the story out of a very intriguing local leader and community hero, Bobby Wallace on his birth certificate, which also mentions Lakeside as his birthplace.

In the light of the recent development regarding the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, several official inquiries about the status of a proposed sand mining project in the El Monte Valley brought further reveleations. For those who are not familiar with either subject, here is the context.

El Monte Valley, Lakeside

The bald eagles have landed! 

A family of bald eagles is back in town again at Lake Jennings, placing Lakeside on the map for many wildlife photographers who are traveling long distances to get a shot and also for tourists who’ve never seen our national bird before. The locals are the most privileged, some being able to admire the eagles from their own patios.

When most of us were still struggling to come up with a resolution for the new year just starting, marine biologist and avid local hiker Jim Carretta was already breezing through on the most difficult hike in the San Diego County – the 12 miles round trip on the El Cajon Mountain, all the way up to the summit.