Friday, November 7, 2008

The Kansas of Your Sweet Little Myth

I have occasionally found myself strapped to name good qualities about my home county, aside from resident family members. “Benitoite!” I say, referring to the semiprecious gem stone found only in my home county, San Benito. It’s actually quite pretty, especially considering that it comes from a place beyond even New Idria. If you didn’t grow up in Hollister, the phrase “beyond New Idria” probably means little to you, but believe me — it might as well be the Midwest or Mesopotamia or the moon.

I’ve known about Benitoite since I was a kid and actually have only ever seen it at the Smithsonian natural history museum, but apparently there are those who actually travel to unincorporated reaches of San Benito County in search of it, as this website attests.

Beyond this blue rock, there’s not a whole lot that jumps to mind, aside from a embarrassingly high teen pregnancy rate that’s only inched ever higher since the bowling alley closed. I have heard, however, of a rare plant, the San Benito primrose (Camissonia benitensis), which may only exist in my home county but as of yet has only been observed there. The poor thing doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page to call its own — yet — but is pretty, I suppose, in a sunny, unassuming way,

Just last week, however, I learned of the existence of a little-seen San Benito County resident, Illacme plenipes, whose genus and species names literally translate from Latin as “over there” and “plenty feet” — making it the only species whose name works as an implied imperative — and who holds the record for the millipede with the largest number of feet. Not a thousand, sadly, but around 600, which is still a lot. The specimen with the most feet had 750 legs, which is close enough for me.

the hometown hero himself

So now, when people ask me about my home, I can proudly tell them that I shared it with the millipede that came the closest to making true on its name and having a thousand feet. And then I can ask them how many feet the millipedes have where they’re from, and whether or not their hometown bowling alleys are still functional, I’ll have made a little victory for myself.


  1. Could you add the mission at San Juan Bautista to the list of good things from/in your county? True, how we most know it, from Vertigo, gives it a matte shot tower it doesn't have, but still....

  2. Good one. I'd forgotten about it. Vertigo tower or no Vertigo tower, it's still one of the better missions, in my opinion.

    Also: apricots.