Sunday, May 10, 2009

The SoCal Pigs (Story)

Once there were three little pigs who lived in beautiful southern California. Each decided they would build their homes to their own design.

The first pig decided to use local materials for his home. Once the grass had grown tall and turned a delightful golden brown, he harvested it from the nearby hills and wove it deftly into walls and roof. It was a pleasant little house, for it breathed with the gentle clime of the area, keeping off the occasional rain and plentiful sun. This pig lived happily in his house until the fall when the hot, dry Santa Anna winds howled down across the area. With the first few gusts, the little house scattered on the wind, leaving the first pig to watch his home disappear.

The second pig knew about the Santa Anna winds and he built his house of wood. He was in his home much earlier than the first pig, as he didn’t need to wait for the grass to grow. He listened to the occasional rain on his rooftop and stayed warm when the cool fog was long lifting. When summer came, his home was pleasantly cool as the breezes blowing from the ocean gently rocked the house and the roof eclipsed the hottest part of the day.

When the first pig lost his home to the Santa Anna winds, the second pig opened his door and called out to his neighbor, “Come into my home where it’s safe. For you see, I have built it better than yours. I have been here longer and my home is strong enough for all the seasons this fine land has to offer. I will let you stay here until you can build a better one for yourself too.”

So the two little pigs shared the little home and together they listened to the Santa Anna winds howl down from the mountains, swaying the wooden walls and rattling a few loose boards on the roof. But the house stood strong against the winds… until the brush fires broke out in the brush.

Day by day the two little pigs watched the news in dread as the fire lines moved closer and closer to their little home. One day the fateful knock came on the door – time to evacuate. Fighting back the tears and fears, the two took what they treasured most and left, still hoping that they would have a place to live when they returned.

The fire swept through the homes in the area, sparing none. The little wooden house’s walls and roof had grown dry through the summer and the fire licked the beams hungrily. In mere moments, the home was ablaze and then gone – ash blowing on the wind.

The third pig was saddened when he heard the news of his neighbors, and he opened his home to them, saying, “Stay with me a while until you can rebuild. Don’t fear the Santa Anna winds nor the fires that ride them. For you see, I read up on the weather in this area and prepared for it. Not only have I built my home of brick and stone and made my roof of clay tiles, I’ve also designed fire barriers around my property. No, the fires will not touch my house.”

Though crowded, the three pigs lived in the house of stone and watched the news closely. The fires continued to spread further and further. When the day that they had to evacuate, the third pig said, “I have confidence this house will survive.”

The fires raged, but the barriers slowed them down. Smoke billowed thick and blinding and darkened the gleaming white exterior. Tiles cracked and popped in the unyielding heat of the inferno… but the house stood.

The three pigs returned and scrubbed the smoke from the interior and exterior, glad they still had a home. The third pig was very proud of himself and his wisdom to research the clime before building. He instructed the other two pigs that when they rebuild they must use brick and stone as he had for surely that was the best way to build a home in that beautiful part of the world.

Through the mild winter months, the third pig continued to boast as he kept his home warm at night with his brick fireplace. The other two grew weary of this, but with nowhere else to live until they rebuilt in the spring, they had no choice.

In the early spring, the San Andreas fault shrugged its shoulders. The ground trembled beneath the little stone house, rattling the windows and dislodging loose items. The three pigs scrambled to flee, just as the clay tile roof fell.

When the gentle breeze came to lift the morning fog, it also cleared the dust in the air, giving them a good look at their home. Bricks and stone were scattered everywhere, not one wall remained standing. All their belongings were lost, crushed under the crumbled stone and heavy roof. As one the two pigs turned to the third and remarked, “You forgot about the earthquakes when you designed this home, didn’t you.”

The third pig just sat there mute, looking at the remains of his fine home. As his ego came crashing down, he swallowed his pride and turned to the other two. “It appears I have,” he grudgingly admitted.

They agreed then and there to collaborate and design a home together. The first pig provided insight about using local building materials. The second pig helped design a house that would give and sway without falling in high winds or earthquakes. The third pig put his knowledge of fire barriers to use, making this home as resistant to the fires as possible.

The year rolled through the seasons, summer followed spring and fall brought the Santa Anna winds on its tail. The new house rattled with the winds, but did not blow away. The fires came and the house survived with only some charring, which was easily repaired. That winter, the ground shifted again, and the house remained firmly upright.

At the end of that winter, the three little pigs rejoiced, they had survived a year and their combined efforts had seen them through it all. With the rain pattering down on their roof they felt secure and comfortable in their home.

And the rains continued to fall – heavily at times – day after day after day. The little pigs looked outside gloomily, wondering if they will ever see the sun that made that area a wonderful place to live. Then they felt the ground shift under their feet – just slightly. Thinking it was one of the local faults sending out a minor tremor, the little pigs just shrugged it off, confident their house would withstand it all.

The next morning, the shift was felt again – more prominent. When there was nothing reported on the news, they decided to visit with a friend who was a local seismologist. He checked the equipment and shrugged, there was nothing registering that they would perceive. He was a little concerned and suggested they have someone check into the ground stability.

Baffled, they drove back to their home only to find the way blocked. When the police officer walked up to the car window, he told them the road ahead was closed.

“But officer,” they argued as they showed their ID’s, “we live up there.”

He walked back to his fellows and they called over the man in charge. Then a small group walked back to the car, very somber. “You can’t get to your house, but we’ll let you go a little way in to survey the damage. We’ll escort you; then you have to leave.”

Pale-faced they followed the patrol car into the neighborhood. Fresh sandy soil washed in muddy cascades here and there. When the crested a neighboring hill, they saw their home – or where the house had once stood. It had slid down the hillside from where it once stood, the roofline and chimney the only parts visible above the river of mud that engulfed it.

They gathered at a nearby shelter, wondering what to do. Then an understanding came to them. Cooperation was how they survived everything else, but they lacked one thing – a good, solid foundation.

They tried together one more time and this time found a solid rocky ledge to build their house upon. Through cooperation and collaboration, they built themselves a fine home. The seasons spun in their annual dance, winds, fire, tremors and mudslides came and went and the house survived it all.

They still live there to this day.


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