6 September 2008
My family has its roots in Marin County, that bucolic area across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. It's a place where people joke about martinis and beemers and liberal kooks.
Our roots, however, go far deeper than gazillion dollar homes and faux hippies. Our great grandfather, Josiah Kirkpatrick, after walking across the country on one leg, with his little daughter, our grandmother, in tow, was the teacher in a small schoolhouse in Olema, and lived with his daughter and his second wife (the first having died) in a house that now backs up onto a trailer park. We had many family reunions over the past twenty years, in that trailer park (until their rates rose so high we couldn't afford it any more).
In about 1941 or 42, my grandmother and grandfather, their children all grown, moved out of San Francisco, where they had been living, and bought a small house in Inverness, where they lived until my grandfather's death in 1958. The tiny house was situated on an acre of hand and my grandfather raised corn and other crops, he had chickens, and I remember my grandmother's strawberry patch, right outside her kitchen window, and the wall of blackberries that grew along one side of the property. I would pick ripe berries and bring them in the back door of the house, where there were Lorna Doone cookies, and smash the berries between two cookies. (Most of my fond childhood memories seem to center around food.)
Peach's father built a house on part of Grandpa's property, and our Aunt Betsy and her husband, Dave McClure had a house on another part of the property. Betsy and Dave later moved to Dave's ranch on land that is now part of the Point Reyes National Seashore, overlooking McClure's Beach. Yes, they were part of that McClure family.
When Cousins Day was over, Peach, Kathy and I went "home" to Inverness. Actually, our trip started in Point Reyes, which is the next town to Inverness. When we were growing up, it was barely a bump in the road, but now it has been "kitsch-ified" and is a new trendy place to be. We were meeting Kathy's younger sister, Kelly, who had brought with her half of Aunt Barb's ashes (the rest having been buried with her husband in Reno). We were going to send the rest of Barb to rest in the waters of Drake's bay.
But first, on the way through Inverness, we drove down the road where Grandma and Grandpa's house had been. Kelly was born after Grandpa died and about a year or two before Grandma died, so she never knew them, and had not seen the old farmhouse.
It looks completely different now. It's hard to find the house that we knew, it's been expanded so much. But as we drove up to the back of it, we saw a woman just parking her car. We told her who we were and she invited us in. It turns out she was a woman named Annie Hallatt, who makes and sells masks out of her shop in Berkeley, Masque Arrayed. She was thrilled to have us tell her our memories of the house and I promised to send her photos of what it looked like back in the 40s.
Peach, Kathy and I stood in the kitchen and tried to remember where things were when we were little, as there has been lots of remodeing and expanding done--but you can still look out Grandma's windows and see where her strawberry patch would have been.
We showed her the tall tree under which Grandma and Grandpa's ashes are buried.
When we left, we had Kathy stop the car by the fence that hid what would have been Betsy and Dave's house and Kelly took a picture of Peach and me under the tree where we spent many hours, sitting, eating apples, and talking, when we were little kids.
(In fact, this tree is the reason I wanted a nice climbing tree planted in our front yard here in Davis--I remember fondly those tree sessions with Peach 55-60 years ago!)
Finally we turned our wheels out to Drake's Bay, where we put Barb in a little cooler and started walking out past where people were cavorting on the beach.
Then we each grabbed handsful of ashes and waded out into the water to send Barb to her final resting place.
We all felt so "right" about what we did, and a sense of peace knowing that at long last, Barb -- all of her -- is at rest. And it was important that the four of us all did it together.
When we finished, we walked back to the parking lot and had a lunch at the cafe there, then turned our wheels home. I think we were all on a high with weather and ocean and camaraderie. It was worth getting home from Cousins Day several hours later than usual!
PHOTO OF THE DAY
MILES TO NOWHERE: 67.5 miles