Coyote Ridge house 2005
It has become traditional for me to end my California days in Lake Tahoe with my in-laws. It is the real vacation - reading, going to the lake, cooking, watching television (their penchant and my summer vice) and, this summer, keeping our eyes out for the eagle. We are not sure if it is a golden or a young bald eagle but it is beautiful as it soars across the meadow below us hunting. Just now, I have been watching it as it roosts at the top of a snag. It does not move - I try to not even blink. I wonder if I can mentally call it through the waves of energy between us. "You are beautiful. Please fly my way." It is not listening.
We have had warm days here, in the 80's, but always a breeze. I wear leggings in the evenings and wore a fleece vest at 3:30 this morning when I drove Katy to the airport shuttle for Reno. Now I cannot say that I spent my entire summer in California as I took her to Harrah's at Stateline and will return to Nevada Beach this afternoon to visit with friends of Ellen and Don that I have know since Bill and I lived in Bishop in the late 70's. That is when Ellen and Don got married. Bill and I played at their wedding on the deck of Ellen's house that she had built up in the woods in 1976. In 2007 the Angora Ridge fire took it out in a huge blast along with many other houses and the forest that they nestled in. We all felt the loss as if it was our home, too, which it sort of was. So many visits over the years with growing girls. This past week I have been making an album of the girls' history here at Coyote Ridge. It starts with Margaret at age one from a smattering of photos that have been scanned and ends with Katy and Margaret here this week visiting. I believe it is the first time we have been here together since 2003, although Bill could not make it this year.
|Baby Margaret and Aunt Ellen|
We have been missing Bill's mom, who lived at Tahoe in her later years. I sit in her chair, we water her plants. She died in 2008, one year after the fire. The combination of those events took a toll on Ellen, but she put all of her energy into rebuilding on the same site, renting a house across the way in the interim. Bill and I, together or singly, the girls, came to visit when we could. Bill and I came together to see his mom earlier in the last summer and I returned to help with hospice after attending my Aunt Zella's 90th birthday party in Crescent City. Soon after Grandma died, Zella had a fall and died that afternoon. 2008... a heavy summer of loss.
Four years later, our hearts are lighter and we are comfortable in the new house. It had been designed before Grandma died with the intention that she would live there, so now I stay in "Grandma's wing." I look out on Angora Ridge and the burned out treeline but, each year, I see more green, more flowers, more new trees. Losing the pines was particularly hard and the landscape seemed harsh in the beginning but Ellen is a gardener, an artful landscaper, and slowly our environment becomes serene.
|view from my room|
hasn't felt the family spirits
hasn't listened to our dreams
hasn't smelled the seet aroma of our lives
is still boards and glass and timbers
is still a blueprint taking shape
is still waiting for the family ties that bind
This house doesn't know
that it's a child of another
and that memories still linger all around
This house is innocent
of the history and the trauma
and the fears that what was lost cannot be found
Bless this house that we are building
Bless this land where we return
Bless this family as we travel through the changing seasons of our lives.
J Gilmore 2008
Now comes my difficult transition. I long to stay out West. I wish that I was already home. If I could only squeeze these places together. I love Tahoe in the winter and I love Crescent City in the rain and I would like to see the Central Coast in the fall. Instead, I will smile upon the Chesapeake and the Blue Ridge and praise the universe for my huge life that encompasses so much.
|Don and Ellen, 1044 Coyote Ridge reborn|