California is a state where, thanks to the forces of nature, we humans are constantly reminded of how much is beyond our control.
So it seemed fitting that even as Gov. Jerry Brown was being officially sworn in to serve a third term as the state's governor, thousands of people were stranded in their cars on a major California highway because a snow storm had closed important mountain passes between state's south and north.
But as Brown reminded his audience in his speech after his third time taking the oath as governor, — the first was in 1975, the second in 1979 — Californians, and those who would be Californians, are used to some pretty hard traveling.
As Evan Halper of the Los Angeles Times reported:
He then spoke in detail about the hardships his ancestors endured, German immigrants who traveled in the mid-19th century over the Sierra by covered wagon. Brown read from his great-grandfather's diary of the trip, which detailed oxen, horses and mules lying dead in the fields, overcome by thirst and starvation.
"Stories of courage abound" in this state, Brown said. "The people of California have not lost the pioneering spirit or capacity to meet life's challenges. ... This is a time to honestly assess our financial condition and make the tough choices."
California has been buffeted, of course, by some of the worst financial problems of any state, leading to significant cuts in education budgets and other state services.
And the 72-year old Brown made it clear there was much more to come.
An excerpt from a piece by David Siders in the Sacramento Bee:
Brown spoke only in generalities about his plan to address an estimated $28 billion budget deficit.
But he said, "It's a tough budget for tough times."
Brown said the budget will require "difficult decisions," and he said, "At this stage in my life, I have not come here to embrace delay or denial."
Brown, who succeeds Arnold Schwarzenegger as the state's chief executive, ended his speech by recalling the lyrics of a famous song "California, here I come. Right back where I started from." (If you have a little time, check out the versions of the song by Al Jolson and the cast of "I Love Lucy".)
The use of the hoary song seemed right in keeping with Brown's throwback of a governorship. Californians have to hope that Brown's obvious experience is just what the state needs to move forward.