“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.” – A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean
Along with the dream of home, this passage has always brought me to tears though a clear and total understanding eluded me. Today it is closer to making sense than ever.
These Rambles were undertaken with a deeper purpose than to learn new and better writing skills. I chose to ramble to get answers I’ve withheld from myself out of apprehension of what I might learn.
Driving from Ukiah to Cloverdale, one came.
I love the Northern California landscape. The oaks, the grasslands, the orchards and vineyards. They were once mine, or I considered them so. As I left for what could be the last time (you never know), I sought to imprint them on my memory.
Burke Hill, the way the hills are folded in tight against the road and then back off to reveal the broad valley that raised me. The little creek separating the Nelson’s vineyard from the northern end of our place. Our barn, the Christmas trees, now gone.
The old blue building that was later converted into a house after it was an antique shop, and behind which two women were found murdered, leather bootlaces around their necks.
The pasture across which one of the woman’s three little boys scrambled for help, and horses and sheep grazed. Where I drove my father’s old Ford at breakneck speed, learning in a safe space before I could drive it down the lane to get the mail.
The house where I learned my father had cancer, where the Professor and I were married. The old abandoned highway behind our place where scotch broom was taking over, where on a hot day you could pop little bubbles of tar rising off the pavement.
The massive patch of blackberries we rode to bareback to fill plastic pails of fruit for mom to make cobbler. The old ranch roads we galloped down. The river where we (and the horses if we found a deep hole) swam.
The gully alongside Hwy 101 where dad fell asleep and rolled his Henry Jay that later sat for years out behind the barn. The old Victorian house, now an upscale winery, where one of the three Seaman brothers lived.
The little town of Hopland where my friend Belinda and I pretended a propane tank was a horse and she let me play with her marvellous little kitchen.
As I drove Ruby south on 101, these memories came and spoke. Things we did and said flooded back. It was not painful. It was pleasant to remember.
South of Hopland it occured to me that while that stretch was mine, the next stretch belongs to others who have experienced similar (and different) things. And that all landscapes speak of memories, mine and others’.
Life and time keep marching steadily on. We are transitory, but not unimportant. Not unrecorded in some strange, surreal way. Not forgotten. The land remembers.
These have been my hills and valleys. And theirs. I am better for understanding and no longer haunted. It is well with my soul. In my metaphor, inspired by Maclean, a highway runs through it.