My Life in the East Bay
By Ethan Mehta
I have lived my whole life in the East Bay near the town of Niles. Every day, the familiar site of a massive undulating landscape of hills meets me wherever I turn. These hills have challenged me, as a member of the cross country team at Washington High School, to push myself with each incline and stride forward, even if the end is nowhere in sight. Yet, there is something more that comes from running the dusty trails for miles and miles; maybe it’s the calming susurrus of the leaves and grasses and the angelic rays of dappled light that peek through the canopy of majestic oaks, or maybe it’s the sight of the sunset over the bay from the hills. Certainly, it’s the feeling of being sent back in time, to the East Bay of years and years past; I am the Ohlone hunter stalking the elusive deer, I am the Spanish conquistador bringing the first cattle to graze. Running on the hills, I see the urban sprawl climb up the slope of grass and chapped, dry dirt. As the years pass, new construction projects add tentacles of city that encroach upon the hills. I can’t help but think about what waves the future will ride. This trichotomy of the past, present, and future makes me imagine the bay as it once was, the way it is today, and about what it will be like one day.
My life in the East Bay has always been intertwined with local nature. As a child, I remember hiking up Mission Peak – years before the large groups that ascend the peak today – seeing foxes and coyotes and having the sunset over the bay all to myself, while trying to find the perfect walking stick to offer my mother. It saddens me to see that, as more people move to the East Bay with its amazing technology companies and its alluring vistas, the doe and her fawns are forced to find new havens to make their homes. However, after doing volunteer work the past summers with composting and restoration at local projects, I am encouraged by the initiatives the people of my community and the East Bay support. My elementary school teachers taught me once that the Bald Eagle had been driven out of the Bay Area and the Grizzly Bear had been eradicated from its Californian habitat, but now I see signs of hope, change, and renewal.
Running on the alameda creek trail, I see a bald eagle-its sharp silhouette a symbol of a great future-complementing the blue sky with its dark pupils and unfaltering gaze. My life in the East Bay has been forever interconnected with the local nature which now also includes the hopeful restoration that I take part in and am blessed to witness.
Name: Ethan Mehta
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Essay Title: My Life in the East Bay
School: Washington High School
English Teacher’s Name: Mrs. Karantzalis