Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

See-Through Walls See Us Through

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

See-Through Walls See Us Through

Article excerpt

Twenty-five years ago, we put Juniper's crib beneath a large white oak tree and our sleeping bag on the ground beside her, on the hill behind Jack's house. That served as our bedroom. There was forest around us, dozens of kinds of northern California trees - madrone, pine, aspen, fir, cedar- as well as brush: ceonothus, manzanita, whitethorn, wild roses, and profuse thickets of wickedly thorned blackberry bushes for delicious harvest in the fall, when the berries ripened. Lush grass and flowers grew from California red clay in a small meadow below the forest.

We used the house freely during the day, home base while we rambled the town Jack's place edged into, and the town 13 miles down the mountain. We looked for jobs and attempted to see what plans might be fruitful for us. I worked toward healing after a severe encounter with a drunk driver. I could work, but not long enough to take on most jobs.

We'd lived in an old motel for a while, near the town's main road, on the west slope of the Sierras. It was almost as cheap by the week as a good rental, if there were any good rentals. We agreed to trade landscaping work for rent on a big house on the other side of town, and we moved from the motel, but our communication with the owners didn't work out. Our stay there was brief. Little money and Jack's gracious offer to share his place dictated our move to Jack's. We loved having the sky above our bedroom and the open, natural view all around us. We also knew we needed a roof before winter.

We owned an ancient pickup. I advertised in the local paper for gardening, landscaping, and yard work. I took work I knew I could do and priced the work by the job, not by the time it took me to do it. I bought a rototiller with my first earnings, did well for about three weeks, and then work ebbed, then ended. No one else called.

I said, "Let's place another ad. Include 'repairs on houses, painting,' stuff like that."

Laura said, "If we got a job painting a house, I could do part of it. Juniper could play right by us."

"Well, we could buy a small brush for her and start teaching her young."

We drove in, placed an ad, and headed back out Clark Road. …

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