incongruity in the valley on a golf course

if you stop and think about it, it really was sort of incongruous:
perfect weather on a weekday
in the middle of a perfect September day,
seventy-five with a slight breeze
in the valley.

they call it Mission Valley now
named for the first California mission
further west in the valley toward the Pacific,
first one;
you know, the first one established by Junipero Serra,
the sainted friar, of course now being denigrated
because the naysaying destroyers of all things past
citing Fra Serra for not living up to today’s standards,
oppressing natives,
not allowing them to live like starving heathens anymore
while my forbears were fighting the Brits in the Carolinas
before crossing the Cumberland Gap to settle smack dab
in the middle of Tennessee with its limestone and sinkholes and
game,  lots and lots of game to live on
to eventually oust those natives across the continent
from Junipero Serra’s Kumeyaay
in a so much more brutal way
than converting them to catholicism.

then, the farmers came to the valley
to take advantage of the loam from
San Diego River sediment,
filling the valley with crops
the development men swept away the crops
to fill up the valley
with concrete, buildings, malls, stadiums, restaurants, offices, people:
lots and lots an lots of people and cars
so you can’t hardly move or breathe,
knowing when the rains come
(and they will definitely come),
the concrete will be covered with floodwaters
with the buildings and the people and their cars
but the development men won’t care
’cause they will have their money in their pockets.

But this was now in the valley
on the eleventh green where deer graze —
hey, one of my foursome told of spotting
an eight-point buck grazing between
the twelfth green and thirteenth tee,
“not more than fifteen feet away from us,
“right there,
“nonchalant as if we weren’t there,”
he said,
reminding me of the herd of them deer
grazing on the fourth fairway
of the south course;
oh yes, the complex bounded by
the San Diego River to the south is huge,
navy huge: a park dedicated to
morale, welfare, and recreation,
but except for the golf course and RV park,
not used very much at all by
the military personnel for which it was intended
so the deer can roam freely,
not only deer but coyotes, one of which we saw in the winter
dashing pell mell out of the hills defining this valley to the north,
damn near mountains really,
this coyote going full bore,
ignoring us on the first green,
through the bunker into the ninth fairway
scattering the coots, culling one, a trailing one of course,
catching the forlorn coot in his jaws,
breaking the coot neck with a head snap,
dropping it there in the fairway
to catch another hapless coot,
dead with another head snap,
then puzzling over how to get them both in his jaws
before the maintenance man on his scooter turned mini-pickup
fruitlessly chased the coyote down the fairway
back to his lair.

Amazingly, i thought about all of this in a few seconds
on the eleventh green of the north course
called Admiral Baker in honor of the Naval Academy submariner who was
commodore of destroyer squadron 31 in the middle of the big war,
the one where they used this part of the valley for training aviators
to drop bombs just feet away from where
i missed my putt and where they found
some live remnants of those training bombing runs,
live bombs beneath the fairway just a few years ago;
the very selfsame fairway where a disabled plane a few years later
landed in an emergency unable to make it to Montgomery Field,
named for the man who did the Wright brothers one better in the 1880’s,
just over those hills to the north on Otay Mesa
(i’m betting that guy putting then missed his putt also
but with much more justification than me).

the other golfers left the green for their carts and the twelfth tee,
but i caught sight of something on the other side
of the arroyo at the bottom of those hills:
another flying machine of the animal kind,
a red tailed hawk, gliding up from what was most likely his nest,
skimming low over the yucca, acacia, manzanita, brush, cacti, and dead grass
for kill,
gracefully unaware of golfers and such,
flying low, in search of game,
then spotting a ground squirrel or something in the acacia,
emerging with food to take home,
just like the shopper in the valley down river
emerging from Trader Joe’s
i watch the hawk, take a deep breath
jesus, take me home.

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