Nish Housepian said goodbye to Fresno in the 1990s. He was part of that early wave of kids born and raised in the valley who left for college and never found a way back. As his plane flew over the summer flatland one last time – the precise rectangles appearing as nearly perfect patches of green, the farmworkers tucked away in the canopy growing smaller and smaller until they became nothing but isolated dots, and then a figment – he told himself he would never return. Both his parents were dead.

I have seen Vallejo's future, and its name is Major Catastrophe.

Spring arrives with the first warm breezes and fogless mornings in our Valley. On our 80-acre organic farm south of Fresno, I disk our soil, breaking winter's crust. The peaches and nectarines awaken with blossoms, initially revealing their pink buds, then blooming into a glorious canopy. Millions of pink dots blanket the landscape. A new year has begun.

The trouble with going blind is you begin not to see. No longer can you drive a car, browse through bookstores and libraries, or read a newspaper or the personal letter you don't want to share with anyone else. You can't see bridge cards, chess pieces, dust on the table, grease spots on your dress or lipstick on your husband's shirt.

I saw Sacramento for the first time in January 1979, when I was a struggling 22-year-old writer. I'd driven out from Ohio and had no money for a hotel. At dusk, on Highway 99 north of Lodi, I spotted a break in the freeway fence.
Watch videos of Bruce Springsteen talking about being inspired to write two songs after reading Maharidge and Williamson's first book. Also, see scenes from their first hobo trip for The Bee.

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