Friday, April 4, 2014

Buzz Cuts

     I don't know if many of you have taken the time to notice, and maybe it is because I am around teenagers all day, every day, but the youth of this country are really setting trends in the hairstyle department, especially the boys.
     Every year brings a new crop of designs to the heads of the students on our campus. Yes, there is always the prerequisite colors. Red is a big on on our campus because red and white are our school colors. I find it interesting that no one ever goes for the white, and I must admit I have never seen a student stripe their hair red and white. Probably the next most popular color is purple, followed loosely by kelly green and then in a far fourth place, comes orange. And I am not even going to mention the black; dark inky black that many of the girls color their hair. And they are not Goths; very few of those in the Hispanic community. Interestingly enough, much of the hairstyle craze every year is shown off by the boys on campus. Nodding to the passage of time, we rarely see the Mohawk or the Mohawk Spike any more, thank goodness (not an attractive style on anyone, including Mr. T.)
     At the beginning of the 2012-13 school year the T.V. show Jersey Shores was a big hit amongst the younger crowd. We saw a lot of up-swept hairstyles on the boys, imitating those characters. But one really stood out. He was a freshman in my third block class. He worn his hair up-swept and it stood up almost 12 inches from the top of his head. I know this because I asked him if I could measure it! Picture an office trash can, made of hair, sitting on top of a head and you've got the idea. I asked him how he got his hair like that. He told me that his sister did it for him and it took her 2 hours and a lot of styling gel to get it stiff enough to last all day, which it did. He became pretty well known on campus and would let kids practice tossing paper balls into his "do" during lunch. He complained once that he had to go use the restroom during class because he thought some kids had thrown their baby carrots in his hair. Too funny. How could I not laugh?
     Around Christmas time he must have gotten tired of getting up two hours early to do his hair (or his sister put a stop to the craziness) because he came to school with his hair down. I was so shocked at how beautiful his hair was! It was thick (I suppose it would have had to have been to do the style) and swept his shoulder blades in length. I don't usually notice my kids physical appearance much but this was just such a reversal of his whole aura (he was still the class clown unfortunately :/) He wore it down for the rest of the year.
     So, fast forward to the beginning of the this school year. My student had passed on to being a sophomore. The first week or so I looked for him as I took my walks on campus. I didn't see him. Until about a month in when I saw him entering a math class. I had expected him to recreate his up-sweep hairstyle. But true to form he was now on to the latest craze the boys were sporting: a buzz cut with designs shaved into the hair on the top and sides of the head. He was too far away for me to see the design that day but I had plenty of other boys in my classes to get the idea. Some of them were team logos, some were lightening bolts, some were names. One kid had the audacity to have "805" shaved into his hair. This is a sign of gang affiliation and, much to his disappointment, the administration made him wear a beanie every day until it grew out.
     It will be interesting to see what type of interesting haircuts the kids will come up with next fall. Never a dull moment in high school!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Rain and Wildflowers

     It's been so long since we have have any decent amount of rain here on the Central Coast of California. The last week it has been raining off and on, which has been such a gift. The hillsides around the county are getting green again. I am hoping that it brings out the wild flowers, in mass, this year. Even the mustard seed plant, that grows profusely in this area, (that some consider a weed) would be a welcome sight. It covers the hills and valleys and surrounds the back roads I prefer to drive. Legend has it that the mustard seed was sewn along the path the priests traveled (most believe they walked most of the time) as they set up the missions that expanded the Catholic Church up and down the Coast of California (following the trail that is called El Camino Real). I don't care how it got here. It is pretty to look at when it blooms.
     In my teenage years I lived in Bakersfield, California. It is located in the Central Valley of California. When the seasons behaved themselves, we would have spectacular displays of poppies (California's state flower, orange in color) and lupin, a low growing plant that produces stalks of purple flowers. Mixed into these would be the mustard seed plants, a bright yellow in color.
     Just as New England is famous for their fall leaves, the Central Valley is famous for the wildflower displays. Every spring it was well worth the time to take a Saturday or Sunday drive and go out into the foothills surrounding Bakersfield, encompassing small towns like Shafter and Delano, Taft, Buttonwillow and out to the rolling hills around Lake Isabella, to look at the wildflowers. Miles and miles of hills blanketed in purple, orange and yellow blooms. Sometimes they were mixed but more often the flowers claimed their territory a color at a time. Sweeping hummocks of purple, valleys of orange and flat mesas of yellow. It truly is one of the best features of that section of the state.
     And it is a big thing. I don't know if they still do this, but when I was living there in the mid '70's, the newspapers would track the wildflowers' emergence, day by day, and post when it was optimum viewing day. Both locals and visitors were kept up to date as the wildflower season progressed. And then, it seemed, just as quickly as it came, the season would be gone. And the beforehand beautiful hills and valleys would be back to their velvety browns and tans and taupe colors. Lovely too, but not as sight- seeing-worthy.
     We don't get as many wildflowers here on the Central Coast. People visit us to see our beaches and tour our wineries. But the mustard seed plants always take me back to those years in Bakersfield and the fantastic display we would all wait and hope for every year.