If you’re looking for movie theaters and fine dining, this is not the place you’re looking for. Southern California Edison’s century-old Big Creek hydroelectric project created Shaver, and Edison, and Huntington, and Florence, all of which the utility, in a fit of romance or whimsy, designated “lakes.” (Pacific Gas and Electric, arriving decades later to work lightning out of the next watershed over, designated its water holdings “reservoirs.” We’re not sure whether this is more honest, or just less imaginative.)
If you want to wax poetical, you could probably call the area we live in the Electric Lake District. We don’t. We don’t even wax skis or unpack snowboards much anymore, as dry as the winters have been these last four years. We don’t talk much about global climate change, but we talk a lot about how low the lakes are. About whether China Peak, the ski resort up the road, will survive the snow drought. About which trees — the ponderosas, the firs, the cedars, the oaks — have been hit hardest by beetle’s and drought’s mysterious ways.
We talk too about the pileated woodpeckers several neighbors have seen lately — enough that we argue good-naturedly about whether “pileated” ought to be pronounced pill-e-ated or pile -e-ated. About whether the ivory-billed woodpecker is in fact extinct, leaving the pileated the largest living North American woodpecker.
Beyond the weather and the whethers, we talk about the wheres and whens. Of fishing on the lake. Of the deer and the coyotes. Of the black bears and the ring-tailed cats and the mountain lions we’ve seen.
Mostly, though, in the brilliant gloom of this unending parade of sunny winter days, we don’t talk at all. We wait, and watch. For clouds. And we listen. For the motion of the wind making the pines sing. For the first fine tapping of raindrops on metal roofs. For all the poetry we dare not speak.