A Nuclear Free Zone

I live near a nuclear free zone. I know this because it says so on the signs entering the town of Sebastopol, California, which is about 4 miles from my house.

I’m not sure what this means, exactly, but it sounds good, at least before you think about it. Makes you feel somehow safe and that you’re in an enlightened pocket of sensibility.

Don’t be misled, however. I discovered the other day, that “enlightened” does not necessarily apply–especially when in relation to the offerings of the meat department of the local Safeway. Having only recently relocated to the land of grapes and olives, otherwise known as Sonoma County, I am still learning about even my immediate surroundings.

In addition to being a “nuclear free zone,” Sebastopol seems to be the chosen land for all of the 60s flower children who have now come here to roost and live out the rest of their formerly (?) hippied lives. I can tell this by the rainbow colored tie-dye shirts, flowing skirts, and long gray hair–on both genders. (Hair stylists take note: no business here!)

Free thinkers and liberal opinions appear to abound. One prominently placed sign bordering an extensive property on the main road into town says “Honk For Bush Behind Bars.” It’s a pretty noisy stretch of road.

No chain stores–exception for 2 grocery and 1 drug–are allowed within the town limits. No Starbuck’s, no Borders, no Barnes & Noble, no Radio Shack, no Home Depot, and heaven forbid, no Marshalls. But instead, a gathering of independently owned shops and boutiques line Sebastopol’s Main Street. How refreshing. How enlightened.

Perhaps as a nod to the subversion of the 60s, the post office, located a few blocks from the main business district is, for all intents and purposes, camouflaged–unmarked by a visible sign. There isn’t even a mailbox in front of it. To recognize it, you either have to be a resident who has therefore been let in on the secret, or you have to possess psychic powers. I had to use the latter before I was recognized as the former.

So, given all of this, I had to be picked up off the floor of Sebastopol’s Safeway the other day when I went in to buy free range chicken (my first stab at buying any form of meat in the just over four months that I’ve been here) and was told that the Sebastopol Safeway doesn’t carry it. What??? They had to be kidding. They weren’t. And that’s when I collapsed.

Here I am in the supposedly ever-progressive state of California, in the heart of the 60s movement, now only slightly displaced by time and place, and the local Safeway doesn’t carry free range chicken? To paraphrase Dr. Phil, “What in the world are they thinking?”

Well, it got worse. I left Safeway–with no chicken–and drove to the next grocery store, just on the outskirts of town, so allowed to exist there even though part of a chain, It was Alberston’s. Surely my Safeway surprise had to be an anomaly, never to be repeated. Dream on.

At Albertson’s, not only did they not have any free range chicken, but the guy representing the meat department didn’t even know what it was! The nuclear free zone hasn’t heard of free range chicken? Another emergency call to the paramedics to revive me.

What is going on here? Has the “nuclear free zone” deprived people of their original brain cells? Perhaps transfusions are in order.

Whatever the problem, and I am looking into it, I now know that even if the people in the nuclear free zone are safer, the animals are perhaps not. My four cats, all free-range, except at night, have been warned.

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