In the centuries before the friars built a mission here, in all those autumns of acorn gathering, how many native feet trod the ground beneath this house? When its foundations were laid seventy years ago, did the builders find potsherds or old Spanish coins? Did they find bones?
In the shadow of the yellow Victorian next door with its turrets and gingerbread trim, what inspired the architect to look further back in time to cloister arches and thick adobe walls?
The answers are lost in lathe and plaster. I like to think that the laughter and music and poems that bubble up in our home mean that it was constructed on happy ground, that in the five thousand years before the missionaries came, children played here. Boys walked up the hill from the river to hunt rabbit and squirrel; girls came to find berries.
Before the road in front of our house was paved, wagon wheels carved ruts in the earth. Now ten thousand cars a day drive by, and only small islands of forest and grassland remain where the city has grown.
Yet, still, acorns fall to the earth every autumn, and sometimes, sometimes a hawk circles overhead.
(Images of Ohlone village life from murals at the Wash & Dry on the corner of Water St. and Branciforte Ave. in Santa Cruz.)