January, 2009 Archive

Sun Valley Homes

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

After an hour and a half of igloo building in the deep snow of the front yard, Ethan and I slouched on the sofa with the current issue of Sun Valley Homes magazine I’d purchased for five dollars in Atkinson’s. On the slickest, brightest paper I’d ever seen, it displayed six pages of beautiful photographs of the house around us and reported the story of its design and construction by Joe and Amy. The inside back cover was a full-page picture of Ethan on the skateboard ramp they’d made in the back yard.

We compared the descriptions and pictures to our cozy surroundings, and Ethan recalled the day the reporter and photographer spent with them. Then we leafed through ads for lavish condos and articles about custom-made lamps and hand-carved front doors.  Ethan was struck by the picture of a wooden bas-relief depicting the Garden of Eden with a naked Adam and Eve holding hands surrounded by a menagerie of tame animals. Though he’d spent three years in the Wood River Presbyterian Church pre-school, he apparently had never heard the opening of Genesis, so we put the magazine down, cuddled deeper into the sofa, and I started with “in the beginning.”

After the fourth day, I interrupted the narrative to let him know that I regarded this as a story not the literal truth, though many people thought it actually happened just this way.  He countered that the world had to have been made by somebody. I said maybe so, but there are some folks who think it was made by a big raven, or a turtle or an old woman, and others who think it just is, with no creator, since what created the creator?  He said maybe God just created Himself, and I said, maybe, though that’s hard for me to imagine.

As we got to the sixth day and the animal kingdom, which brought us back to the carved wooden door, I mentioned that the animals were all made in pairs, male and female, and I asked if he knew why.  He said yes, a man and woman get married and then they have children.  And I said yes, and that’s also the way animals have babies and make more animals. So in the beginning, according to the story, God created the animals and then they all created more animals and so did people.

New Year’s Day 2009

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

New Year’s morning the rising sun kindled pea vines that grasped the bent bamboo stakes over the vegetable bed.


At 8:45, my teaching partner Jim and student activist friend Eric arrived to join Jan and me for a ride to the Guadalupe Dunes, site of the 25th annual New Years Day hike originated by Bill Denneen and this year organized in his honor by Kara B., San Luis Obispo’s first lady of Land Conservancy.


More than 40 people showed up including 85 year old Bill, son and grandchildren.  The further south we went, the more pristine and dramatic the landscape, low dunes giving way to taller ones sloping steeply down to the ocean, gradually revealing longer stretches of coast and Coast Mountains, the small human settlements in appropriate proportion to the immense land, sea and sky.