El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Ana Nita

With all six San Diego County Planning Commissioners voting “yes” for the new sand mining project on Moreno Ave. in Lakeside, owner Bob Turner and his project engineer Kenneth J. Discenza are finally ready to celebrate. “It’s about time,” said Turner, pointing out that it took 20 years to reach this resolution.  Discenza is hoping to start digging on Sept. 15, but that still depends on a long list of conditions included in the Major Use Permit and Reclamation Plan.

There is a lot of strength, love, enchantment and feistiness behind the soft hands clenching on mine, when our hands are forcefully and painfully pulled apart and she doesn’t want to let go, as if the story should have no definitive endings other than the temporary breaks to inhale, dream, search for the memory, exhale, smile, in absolute freedom, until the caretaker and another woman shatter the silence and abruptly drag her away “to rest”. But she doesn’t want that. She gets angry. She barely came in to do her volunteering work.

“Her name was Champ and I was five years old at my grandfather’s farm in Wisconsin when I first rode her. She was a dairy farm horse,” says Cheryl Erpelding, the newest board member on the East County Equestrian Foundation (ECCF) created to build the first equestrian park in Lakeside. Erpelding came on board last month and she already made a difference. The project has now a new website, a logo and this go-getter horse lover is set on helping fundraise no less than $143,000 – that’s how much is needed to get this project off the ground.

It took 13 years for this project to become reality. Proposed in 2004, the new animal shelter in El Cajon broke ground last week on a lot close to the existing shelter, with Mayor Bill Wells at hand to hold the shovel joined by several council members, the construction company contracted for the job, the architects, media and public.

“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.