I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Walking the Bar.

I can't walk out into the hills right now, like I do in the winter. I would rather leave the rattlers to roam around by themselves. So I walk the road to the river.
 This way, I can see the snakes ahead of time and avoid a confrontation.

Last week, we had a few days under 100 degree. The mornings were lovely and there was really no excuse not to walk. So, I drove down to the main road. Yes, this is the main road to our house. This road leads to the Mokelumne River.  If you turn the other way, you reach a two lane highway that leads into town. We are offically, IN THE STICKS.

I drive down to this road from the house because we live up a very long, very steep dirt road that I love to walk down... but hate to walk back up, especially at the end of a long walk. So I drive down and park at the bottom. Then I get all excited when I return and find my little car waiting for me. It's like a Weight Watchers ice creme after dinner for staying on program. It's my little treat at the end of my walk.
I park the car, lock it (yes, even here) sling my camera over my head, put my phone in my pocket, check it for a connection and off I go. The walk doesn't require water, food or a gun. It's quick and relatively easy. This time NO ONE drove by except my neighbor, going to his mail box. He stopped and gave me a "Howdy". we talked for a few minutes, about snakes and that he was going to Bear River with his brother on the weekend and how he was working his dry creek bed for gold. 
"Be careful." he said.
"I will." I assured him.
and off he drove.
You can do that here... Stand in the middle of the road talking to your neighbor. Rarely does anyone come by and make you move over.
So I continued on.
We have an old gold mine on our property. It always has water coming out of it. We closed it up a long time ago because people would not leave it alone. We use to have a locked iron gate and a head frame at the entrance but it was an attractive nuisance. People broke the lock, stole our sign with the historic name and date on it and tromped all over the property. So we closed it up and caved it in. It was too much of a liability.
The water runs out of the old mine year round. That is why we have cattails.
Thousands of lush, beautiful Cattails. that line the road and are one of a few "green" things on this arid land.
The creek that runs all the way to the Mokelumne river is dried up this time of year. There is a huge fig tree, old and broken, that lies sideways across the creek bed. It's still producing figs without any help except from Mother Nature. But, it is badly damaged and will end up in the creek bed one of these winters.
So I continued on...
It was already getting warm. I appreciated the shady areas of the road.
When I got to my neighbor's entrance, I turned around.

This is a sign we gave our friend a long time ago. It was a joke gift for his birthday. He hung it on his gate. I still think it's funny. "NODIS"... Trepespasers'll be percekuted...
His road is worse than ours. It can be a river bed in the winter. But it works for him. I suppose that folks think we all live in little shacks or single wides when they look down our roads but we don't. We have real houses and garages too.... and great neighbors.

So I turned around and started walking back.
I love taking my camera with me. I don't walk as fast when I use it, but I find it connects me to small places that are part of my life here.
And there will always be the trash.
We try to keep it picked up but some of this will be found, in the future, under the forest debris. Won't it be interesting when, thousands of years from now, they dig down and find all these things and try to figure out what they were? What will a tire say about us? What will someone surmise about our civilization from the artifact they find?
We can't reach these tires. They are down the hillside too far. Maybe, in the winter, we can use a rope, hike down, tie them together and pull them up. Recently, the Prospector and our neighbor pulled up two mattresses that someone dumped and the city guys (bless their hearts) came and picked them up for us.
If we pick these things up and keep the road clean, people tend to dump less. I guess some of them see that this is a beautiful place and think before they throw something out the window. But there are always a few who can't wait for a garbage can. We pick up garbage everyday. Fast food containers, beer cans, plastic bottles, and the one that strikes terror in my heart... cigarettes and empty matchbooks or lighters.
This area is so dry in the summer.
The lovely Poison Oak is now brilliant in color but bone dry... kindling for one thrown match, one lit cigarette... and it only takes one small, hot tip of a cigarette to start a fire. We know.
Two years ago, this month, we almost lost everything. We escaped with the dogs and our cars... over the back of our property. As I look up toward my home now, I still see the dead pines and manzanita that will never come back. Ever present reminders of a fire that came to our door so fast that we had to leave goats, chickens and our whole life in that house and run from the flames. I still shake thinking about it. Thanks to our town's volunteer fire dept, Cal fire, the junior firefighters and the fire captain who went through flames to reach our house and fight the fire from the top down.
And still... there is new growth coming up in between the burnt trees.

I walk past the reminders of what happen that day.
It's remarkable how there is always new growth. In all the damage there will always be a new wild flower, a squirrel, and a red headed woodpecker that sits on a dead and burned pine tree every morning.

I finally see my car at the entrance. I'm tired and it's getting hot. I'm glad that the car is waiting there for me to drive up to the house.
I look down the road...
And then I turn and look behind me.
It's a good place to live. I've been here for almost sixteen years and it's my home.
Not the place I was raised. Not the place that we raised our children.
Certainly not the place I thought I would be in my older years... but, it's my home.
I love it here... Rattlesnakes, mountain lions and all.
It's a walk I didn't expect... but a good one.


4 comments:

  1. def you live in an interesting world...enough little bits of danger to keep you awake....smiles...and lovely in its own way....cattails are cool....and love your sign....NODIS...ha

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  2. Another great post and pictures of your home and surrounding area. I dislike people who throw trash from their cars I have to pick up beer bottles, soda cans, etc. along my property. have a blessed day. Madeline

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  3. I like the NODIS too. LOL. Looks like a peaceful, lovely walk on your country road. Nice post!

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  4. 'Midst manzanita

    burnt black, poppies blazing gold

    shine the light of hope.

    ReplyDelete

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