My Town - Katrina Woodcox
By Enjoy Magazine
Katrina Woodcox, Chico,
Executive Director, Butte Humane Society
Photo by Melinda hunter
How do I see my town:
Something I Didn’t Think I
Wanted, But it Ended Up Giving
Me Everything I Needed.
I never thought I would call Chico my hometown. Ever. At best, I told myself it would be a fun place to go to college, make some new friends, and live it up a little before heading off into the blue yonder for an amazing future filled with prosperity and adventure.
Having grown up in the Bay Area, my dad uprooted us to Grass Valley so we could “stop and smell the roses” – his favorite motto. Looking back, I understand that it was the right move for our family. However, as a rebellious 14-year-old transplanted into what I considered an alien culture, I was horrified. The small-town pace felt stifling and I vowed to escape back to the “big city” as soon as I turned 18.
I made good on that promise and right after graduation, moved as far away as I could to attend college in Southern California. I was free to live life in the fast lane! Free, that is, until my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I finished out my freshman year and transferred to Chico State so I could be closer to my family,
but determined to move on to bigger and better things one day.
Thirty-five years later, I’m still here.
There’s just something about Chico that gets under your skin. In a good way. It’s fast-paced enough to make you feel on-the-move, yet relaxed enough to avoid feeling like you are caught up in a rat race. Chico is a place where it takes 15 minutes to commute to work by car, or a 30-minute bike ride through tree-lined streets on a brisk fall morning. You choose. It’s a town filled with familiar faces, and sometimes faces you’ve never seen. Either way, you can always count on a smile. It’s a solo hike in glorious Upper Park or congregating with thousands on a warm, spring Thursday night, sweet flowers and barbecue filling the air. It’s a city filled with open arms to accept a community of 20,000 who lost everything in a devastating wildfire. And thanks to our university, the annual arrival of students brings an injection of vitality that keeps our community forever young.
From music to art, recreation to cuisine, rainy winter afternoons to balmy summer nights, traditional to trendy, and everything in between, the beauty that is Chico is the diverse potluck of experiences that it offers, providing something for everyone, no matter how picky the appetite.
Chico is rural Northern California living, steeped with just the right amount of urban edge. I do admit that there are times when a transit wind whispers in my ear, reminding me that I have lived here my entire adult life. “It’s time to move!” it murmurs. “There’s got to be something better, somewhere else…” When that happens, I explore beyond my ZIP code and comfort zone, pondering what it would be like to escape again. I enjoy these exploits and take great pleasure in fresh experiences, new people and different landscapes. But the outcome is always the same: “Go home!” my heart cries. Home – back to the place where I have loved, laughed, lost and truly lived.
Chico. Three decades, four amazing children, a solid marriage, incredible friends, a rewarding career and a feathered comfy nest later, I guess I’ve earned the right to call it my hometown. I’ve spent a lifetime planting and tending my garden right here. Why leave now?
I’ve got roses to smell.