The Ground Beneath

 

IMG_3813In 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.)

The Last Oozings

grape clustersLeaves on the spent canes of the
boysenberry vine crinkle and fade,
while congregations of Concord grapes
swell with purple sweetness.
Into the green globes hanging from the persimmon tree
an orange stain begins to creep.
Slowly the garden is bending towards autumn.

Unlike me
it surrenders its greenness willingly.
In a long, languid season
of praise for the light
it consents to the coming darkness.
May I join my voice to this
thanksgiving song,
reach for candle and cup,
and trust in the secret gifts
the roots know
in the belly of the earth.

 

Title from “To Autumn” by John Keats