Friday, November 8, 2013

Blazing Color and More on Maacama

     Yesterday, sight unseen,  I downloaded a new book on my kindle called the Persimmon Tree. No doubt my mind was wondering what my persimmon tree on Cathy Lane looked like right now. Neighbors up here, Steve and Chuck, have two in their back yard, and invited me over for a photo fest. Their crop this year is small, only a few persimmons, but they are the size of grapefruit, I swear,  and the leaves are ablaze with color.
Most of Sonoma County is a  photographers dream right now, though rain is predicted by Monday .
Did you like my story last week? Here is the last chapter.  

    By exaggerated gestures and more yelling the highway patrol officer was able to communicate to us over the roaring waters that he wanted our car keys. We only had one set so Lee hunted through the cabin to find something to wrap them in. What she found was ingenious, I thought: a rusty old glass jar about a third full of decayed salmon eggs. Placing the keys inside and tightly screwing on the lid, she posed straddled-legged on the  upper bank of our side of the creek to make the precarious toss. My hands were frozen in a prayerful position. She calculated carefully and then wound up. The glass jar flew through the air some thirty-five or forty feet, making a gentle arc above the raging waters, landing neatly at the officer’s left big toe. He looked down, astonished. 
     Next, he removed the keys from the fish eggs, and waded to our car sinking car. By now the water was lapping on the carpets inside. Lifting the hood, he disconnected the brake cables, so water would not flood the engine. Then Eureka! The motor purred gently as he put the car in reverse, and ever so slowly backed it out along the now underwater track until he reached a high spot where he could ease it onto the highway. From there he radioed for a tow truck from Calistoga to haul it in and restore the brakes. He indicated to us that he would have it brought back the next day and parked along the highway above us, with the keys under the mat inside. That is indeed what happened. By the next day the torrent had receded significantly. It was now just under waist deep, though still fast and strong. The tow truck driver brought a big rope, securing his side to a tree and tossed the other end across, where Lee secured it to a tree on our side. Then we waited a few more hours until the waters reached thigh high. It took two or three trips across, hanging on to the rope for safety, to extract us and our gear, which we tried to balance with one hand over our heads to keep the gear dry.  On the last trip Lee, my hero, untied the rope on the cabin side of the bank, and hand over hand sloshed across. We were mighty cold and anxious, but all was well. 
     This was my first and most memorable trip to the cabin we called Maacama. But in the next twenty years we probably camped there fifty times. It has always remained a magical setting for me, and does to this day remind me of Lee’s pluck and pitching arm.  It was an auspicious welcome to California, a state I have now called home for 57 years. 
     One of my most precious memories of Lee is the picture in my mind of her taking aim and so accurately throwing the glass fish egg jar with keys inside across the raging waters. 
     A driving trip to see if the old cabin still stands is on my agenda for the coming months., and a new friend up here, Joyce, has volunteered to lead the expedition. But I think I’ll avoid April, especially in the rain. 

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