Monday, February 15, 2010

Surfliner Stories: Forgotten People, Forgotten Places

The train to Los Angeles rumbles through the ruined orchards north of San Juan Capistrano. The trees seem remote and cut-off from the overbuilt developments of coastal Orange County. In amongst the groves you can spot signs of habitation: a shack in one place, or a trailer over there. There's one house trailer that is collapsed and crumbled, surrounded by abandoned and fragmented vehicles. There's no road, only a dirt track.

Does anyone live in these places? are they farm workers, scraping by in the remnants of OC agricutlure? Or illegal immigrants, grateful for a temporary roof overhead as they make their way to the anonymous streets of LA? Maybe they are locals down on their luck, or drug-addled drop-outs lost from the wealthy community nearby.

A little further along, the train slides into Irvine. The abandoned El Toro Marine Air Station is on one side, grass and bushes poking through the asphalt next to empty buildings painted institutional yellow. On the other side, open fields, freshly plowed and planted, with scarecrows hanging along their edge.

Unlike the untended orange orchards further south, these bits of urban agriculture are active, constantly worked and re-worked, an improbable remnant of farmland in the heart of suburbia.

There is an almost artistic sense of contrast between the decaying buildings of the airport among the weeds , and the ever-renewing fields, with the railway line in between.


NancyL said...

This is a Hi - I'll see you on the train. Well, not really, I am on the east coast, and ride irregularly. But I find trains a great way to get places. My main routes are from Springfield MA to DC, or Springfield to Minneapolis, but I have been to meetings all over the country by Amtrak.

I too find the scenery beautiful and evocative - as seen from the train windows.

I have been reading your blog since you announced it on Friends of Jake.

IT said...

Oh, thank you for coming by! I have a number of posts queued up here but they will come rather sporadically. :-)

I'm much more active at FoJ but my train posts don't really fit anywhere else!