Friday, July 01, 2011


My history stalks these hills.

It stalks the hills where I drove with The Ravishing Mrs. TB and Nighean gheal yesterday as we went to the town that my great-great-grandfather arrived and settled in when he came in 1850 for the Old Home Gold Rush, to the remnants of the ranch he built and the mines he and his descendants worked. It followed on the road down to the canyon as we drove the (often) one car wide trail one of my great-uncles walked as went to build a cable bridge with planks hewn and carried down by hand.

Driving up two ridges over, it sang in the pine and oak covered canyons that carry the river southwest as the sun pours overhead in the blue early evening sky. The air is redolent with the smell of pine and tarweed that I remember from my youth.

Before the drive, we visited the old family cemetery, where three generations of my relatives are buried. It's on a hillside surrounded by pine trees with none of the usual grass and wide spaces we so often associate with graveyards today. The headstones are all in great shape (there's little fear of bad things happening there) and I can go down the rows, naming most of the relatives and their relationship to our family. It gives a sense of linkage, of purpose, of memories of my own childhood coming up every Memorial Day weekend to care for our dead.

I love this land - love it in a way that is not necessarily rational or communicable to those that have never walked on it, never been on it, never visited the graves of their forebears that lived and died there.

Wherever I go, wherever I wander, the red iron dirt is ground into my bones.

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