Redneck Hippies in Sonoma County


Redneck Hippies in Sonoma County

Jennifer Molidor

I love Sonoma County, where guns&ammo stores are located next to medical marijuana dispensaries. As the photographer of the image above notes “we’re a little bit redneck and a little bit hippie.”

The Treehouse

Having recently returned here from a decade of living in the Midwest, I am both a native and an exile. With excitement and dread, I drove across the county for days, noticing how people who live in towns like Petaluma are considered “off the grid” by folks in Santa Rosa, while others commute hours from San Francisco to Windsor.

As I drove around the valley, I increasingly grew panicked. In fact, I’ve had a pounding headache for a week that hasn’t gone away. Maybe I’m not just searching for a place to live – maybe I am searching for who I will become. What life will I lead? Who will I be?

♦Will I have blue hair and tattoos and live along the river, shunning the modern world and its fascination with technology? I suddenly have an overwhelming urge to buy a Subaru and wear long bohemian skirts that brush along the dusty ground. Maybe a toe ring or two, and the essence of sandalwood burning through my skin.

♦Or will I face the combative urban world of academia and higher education with a full yuppified throttle? Rent a tiny studio in Marin, drive my stylish black crossover back and forth across the Golden Gate Bridge, to beat the rush-hour traffic to my job in the city, and in the east bay, and maybe the south bay, and also the north bay, because that’s the fun of being an adjunct instructor.

♦Of course I could just be a mountain girl. I did consider living in Clearlake – I’m not going to lie. It’s beautiful up there. But then I decided I didn’t actually want to live in a trailer in meth-central. As appealing as it sounds…

♦Somewhere in between these options was the safety of the suburbs. It came down to a pricey condo in the wine country’s least quirky town (Rohnert Park) or a lovely landlady renting a small, faceless duplex on a busy street in Santa Rosa where the major concern of my dad’s neighborhood seems to be “No poop on my lawn!”


Community Doggy Bags Nailed to a Tree

And so I drove up and down, over and out, around the county, revisiting the character that is Northern California. Driving thought vineyards and apple orchards, I came across the new wealth of non-natives mixing with the old, settled hippies who have been here for decades, back when this area was about chickens and eggs, small farms, and the beauty of mountains, lakes, rivers, and forests.

I can visit this place whenever I want now.

All those years hearing about family and friends having fun out at the river, amongst the redwood trees (while I was all by myself in the flatlands of the Midwest prairie) was too much for me. My heart wanted to be out there. I didn’t think about just what that would mean…

No Cell Phones in the Post Office

However, my relationship with my life-partner may be in jeopardy. I thought they were tolerant out here at “the river.” Apparently that does not extend to some people’s right to be in love with their cellphones.

When I visited the Forestville post office yesterday I was mocked for texting on my cell phone while waiting in line. The entire post-office began babbling about how they didn’t even use cell phones, didn’t own them, and got furious when people sent them ads for online banking and mobile applications. I felt like a leper.

Grower House

Actually, I am also a little bit worried about the house. I haven’t moved in yet but I have a little renter’s remorse. First of all, there are so many electrical outlets in every single room it borders on the ridiculous. I am leaving an extremely conservative small town in the middle of the middle of the mid-west, to live in the hippie-redneck forest in what was probably a “grower-house” for marijuana. That’s my guess. Either that or someone was stealing electricity from the neighbors. There are 13 electrical outlets in the living room alone. And there are shelves where there shouldn’t be shelves. There are even outlets near the ceiling. Maybe the previous tenant had a fascination with clocks and fans, I try to tell myself.

Or maybe the previous tenant was a serial killer. The place looked great the first three times I visited. Now it is full of flies. Not fast-moving “help, let me out of here” flies, but slow, fat, heavy “I just ate a carcass and pooped on the counter” type of horse-flies. Like there’s a body buried under the rafters. And, lest you think I’m being a big baby, I counted 47 flies alive and kicking in my new home.

Bodies by the Bay

So now I am worried I am going to be the next victim of serial killers. The tolerant community along the river means that people who have long ago given up on “society” are hardly noticed. And the flies show me that my perimeter is easily invaded.

Since I’ve returned, two people have drowned in the river. And now they’re looking for bodies in Cow Mountain from a serial killer they released (he’s deceased now – probably buried under my garage too).WELL THEN. I’LL JUST MOVE RIGHT IN. Thanks!

So now that I’ve chosen to live amongst the hippies, I kind of feel like getting a gun. I’m convinced that for every 500 open-minded laid back hippies there is 1 serial killer. I don’t like guns. And I don’t want one. But I know why there’s a pot-shop next to the ammo-stop down the road. It’s a mathematical equation, folks. The more beautiful the natural environs, the more hippies. The more hippies, the less likely you’ll find street lights, cell phones, internet, or alarm systems. And thus, you need guns to protect you from the serial killers who, like the flies of society, feed off places just like this. Hence, redneck hippies.

Or maybe I just need to relax.

I’m glad to be home. Truthfully, I can’t wait to begin my adventure. I’m back, Northern California! Neither flies, nor killers, nor patchouli can stop me!


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