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Here’s a dirty little secret – I’m not really a Davisite.

While I’ve lived in Davis off and on since age five, and long before it became an actual city, I don’t really qualify since I’m just not weird enough. Don’t get me wrong, I’m plenty weird in other respects. I know because my husband reminds me rather frequently.

But there’s a difference between my kind of weirdness (my husband says I talk to myself when I grade student papers. Who wouldn’t? They’re awful), and the kind of weirdness so many Davisites find perfectly logical and even charming.

Like building toad tunnels.

in 1995, $14,000 were spent to construct toad access tunnels (yes, there’s more than one), funneling northbound and southbound toads to and from the wetlands.

And in 2009, the building named “Toad Hollow” was painted green and outfitted with rooftop solar panels and a sign reading, “Toads Going Green.” Davisites couldn’t have been more proud.

And if that’s not weird enough for you, how about dimming the street lamps to prevent light pollution and orange night haze? Foreign concepts to those of us who hail from big cities where seeing the night sky takes a back seat to possible mugging and other crimes best perpetrated in the dark.

No. Davisites were not concerned about what seemed blatantly obvious to outsiders like me. Not only would the starry night be visible in all its glory once those lights were dimmed, but “sensitive animals” like salamanders and frogs (yes, those favorites again), would be allowed to breed under cover of dark.

How could I possibly find fault with such romantic endeavors?

What did almost put an end to this genius idea was just as bizarre as the idea itself.

Some individuals were concerned that:

Bicyclists might run into roadside compost.

Evening games of hide & seek would be made more difficult for the seeker.

And…..horror of horrors, everyday objects such as trees, would appear ominous and terrifying in the gloom.

Now we wouldn’t want that.

Perhaps it is because I spent enough time outside looking in that I can so easily poke fun at this place I now call home. A place where picnic day entertainment includes cockroach races and cow dung flinging. Where residents are obsessed with raising chickens, not where you would expect to find such creatures, on a farm far out of sight and earshot. In this town they’re right in people’s backyards, shrieking shrilly at all hours, causing city girls like me to run outside in that early morning gloom, in nothing but our skivvies, murder in our hearts. I’d rather wake to the sound of bus gears squealing to a halt than to Patty’s vociferous exclamations as she lays her morning egg.

Yes. They name their chickens.

I live in a town where a woman in a coffee shop called herself a victim when a man exposed himself at a neighboring table.

And I live in a town where a woman was once cited for snoring and violating the noise ordinance. (But screeching chickens…. no problem). The case was not pursued as the snoring was not considered a willful act.

I live in a town where a neighbor once called the fire department to report strange colored smoke emanating from our chimney. Two fire engines and a handful of firefighters wasted their time and resources as they came roaring down our street, and while we weren’t found to be in violation of anything, I was told to try and get along with my neighbors. I was probably burning those terrible student papers.

We even have our own bumper stickers. One reads, “Keep Davis Boring.” So far so good.

The other declares that, “Hate is not a Davis Value,” which made me hate whoever came up with that one just a little.

Yet considering what’s happening in the world around us right about now, especially that neck of the woods from which I hail, that’s not a bad sentiment to express at all. And despite the quirkiness of this fair city, it isn’t a bad place to call home even if I prefer to get my anonymous chicken and her nameless offspring wrapped in their plastic and carton respectively from the local Safeway, where Linda, the cashier, knows me by name and always has time to chit – chat, no matter how long the line behind me.

I live in a town where most people still smile in greeting as they pass you on the street. A place where the bank teller will let me in even if it isn’t exactly 9:00 just yet. Where the auto mechanic promises to have the car ready so my daughter will get to work on time and keeps his promise. Where a complete stranger sees me standing in line at the grocery store, balancing seventeen items when I only came in for one, walks out of the store and returns with a shopping cart which he rolls right up to me and says, “For you,” before walking out again.

And who wouldn’t want to fall asleep under a velvety blanket of darkness, dotted with so many sparkling jewels, to the sounds of amorous amphibians.

Not a bad place to call home.


Frog City

Frog City

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