Cambrian: Slice of Life

March means a lot of things. For our household, it’s a reminder to keep ‘marching’ ahead

Kathe Tanner
Kathe Tanner

March Madness, oh yeah, but maybe not just for sports buffs.

For most people, March means the annual basketball craziness is upon us, plus the vernal equinox and spring (or autumn south of the equator), St. Patrick’s Day, wildflowers a’blooming and even baseball’s spring training.

This month also has the Ides of March, the anniversary of the release of the first Beatles album, spring break, some Fat Tuesdays and Lent and an occasional Easter. There’s the Peace Corps’ anniversary and the run-up to filing those dreaded IRS tax reports on April 15.

Additionally, March has National Bubble Week and Crochet Week, along with National Pig Day, Peanut Day, Panic Day, Old Stuff Day, Earmuff Day, Pi Day (if you’re mathematical, or an unofficial pie day if you’re not) and Extraterrestrials Abduction Day.

Ummm, OK, fine. ET, call home.

For the Tanners, however, March is a month for significant anniversaries, and 2019 is a biggie year for a couple of them.

It was:

• March 1971 when we fled the Los Angeles/Orange County crush and moved to Cambria.

• March 1979 (40 years ago!) when we finished remodeling a gas-station lube bay and a book store and opened The Upper Crust Bakery and Tearoom (now Cambria’s French Corner Bakery).

• March 1991 when I started as a reporter at The Cambrian (I’d launched my column in The Cambrian and The Tribune a decade earlier).

• March 2009 — 10 years ago this week! — when the Tanners moved to our quirky hilltop home after living for 35 years in the Marine Terrace neighborhood. It was a homecoming of sorts, because our first Cambria home was mere blocks away from where we are now.

Visiting those March anniversary occasions in my mind is a bit like reuniting with friends I haven’t seen in decades, and discovering that those familiar-looking young people I’m hugging are the children of my long-lost buddies. Or grandchildren. Yikes!

The decades changed our lives, of course, along with vastly transforming other people and places.

Los Angeles seems much like it was in 1971, only so much more so.

It’s like a sleek gymnastics champ turned sumo wrestler. Acres of orange groves and open space now are housing tracts and commercial centers.

Finding any beach space on a hot day is next to impossible. The traffic jams I hated then have turned into perpetual gridlock. Parking space? Anywhere? Are you kidding?

We’re all well aware of metropolitan problems, and San Luis Obispo County has some of them now, too. Sigh.

Cambria also has changed.

According to census date, there were 1,882 Cambria residents in 1970, which rose to 3,061 in 1980 and 5,382 in 1990. There are about 6,000 residents or so now, thanks to water-supply issues, but the 2020 U.S. Census will give us an updated snapshot.

I wonder if the population in Harmony will still be 18 then? Be a shame if, after all these years, they had to change the sign. The downtown berg is so small that when previous owners of the tiny town sponsored a parade, the procession literally had no place to go. So, the line-up stood still, and observers walked around the parade.

That’s so North Coast.

In the 1970s and ’80s, Cambria already had quite a few second/vacation homes, but there was still plenty of empty space in prime locations. An aerial photo of Marine Terrace taken then shows few homes and lots of undeveloped lots. Now most of the homes there are cheek-to-jowl.

Most Cambria houses that were frequently vacant in the ’70s are among the many used as vacation rentals now, for short-term visits by people who’d love to live here.

The past half century has affected Cambria’s forest, too. Monterey pine trees that were in the prime of their lives then are now (if they’re still alive) older, taller, leaner and more vulnerable to insects, pathogens and the deadly combination of shallow root systems, rain-soggy soil and high winds.

Like them, we Tanners have changed, too, with some medical issues, aging aches and pains we’d rather not discuss, but with young family members we love to brag about.

We’d also like to think we’ve gotten smarter. Dream on.

Through it all, thank heavens, we’ve managed to hang onto most of our wide-eyed wonder as we ponder what’s ahead, with many more March memories to make.

Happy anniversary, y’all, whenever your special days and months are.

Keep on marching.

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune