At the top of California, on the edge of the sea, miles of narrow highway curve through redwood forests, separating Del Norte County from the rest of the country. Residents of this remote area have given up the world of shopping malls, high speed internet, specialized medicine, and mainstream culture for wild rivers, lush forests, and undeveloped beaches.
Privacy, space, and startling scenery come at a price: limited job opportunities, poor educational outcomes, and high rates of drug abuse and teen pregnancy. The trade-offs are worth it—for some—but not for others. In their own words, a diverse array of Del Norters share their lives and illustrate both the beauty and challenge of living in this unique area.
Whether tied to the land through tribal alliance, family connections, work or love, each writer’s experience in Come to the Edge is unique and revealing. There is something familiar about each story, too. No matter where you live, these memoirs reveal that place matters. We are shaped by the land, even as we rise to shape it ourselves.
About the Editor – Ruth Rhodes has lived in Del Norte County since 2003 and teaches English at the College of the Redwoods. She began writing about local culture through two long-running columns in The Triplicate. “The Localvore” focused on Del Norte foodways and “The Accidental Family,” written by her and other family members, chronicled their family’s expansion to include two teen-aged daughters coming out of the foster care system.
Ruth is the author and co-composer of the musical This is Crescent City, produced by Lighthouse Repertory Theatre in 2014, and is the writer of a forthcoming graphic novel: How Did We Get Here? which tells the fictional story of four young friends struggling to find their place in their community.
In 1998, BBC Radio’s show Short Story featured “Weaver Bird,” a tale Ruth penned while living and working in Kenya as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Her Alaska memoir about living and working in Denali National Park, included in Bona Fide Book’s 2015 anthology Permanent Vacation, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.