Saturday, October 18, 2008

Home Sweet Home!

Janis and Twizzle.
(Twizzie was glad to see me too!)

Be it ever so... Whatever. There is no place like home!

Only a few of us know what it feels like to come back into the South Fork of the Eel canyon after being gone for an extended period of time. (Three Days or more) So those few of you know how good I feel right now!

We headed up North, really down the river, and dove into the South Fork Canyon mid-Long Valley. There was about two hundred Tule Elk lying in the rich blond grass at the divide of the drainage, where the South Fork and the Main Eel diverge. The temperature was 81, the sky was blue. The last image of a waning moon hung just barely visible over the green, and slightly blue mountains in the distance. The valley where my ancestors are buried.

As we started down the hill north of Piercy, we were pressed with the beauty of the fall season. The various and obvious different colors of green that the Tan Oak, Madrone, Fir and Redwoods give to the viewer. They are pleasing, and familiar, to our local eyes. The same Tan Oak that my ancestors used to tan the hides of the deer they made their clothes out of. The same Madrone and Manzanita that they used to forge the iron that they needed to shoe their horses and build their wagon wheels. The same Fir and Redwood that they hand split to make their houses and homesteads.

The Buckeye trees are striped of their leaves, and they stand in bare, stark beauty, with their light grey bark, and their starchy balls hanging at the tips of every limb. They are like little children proclaiming that they are first to be dressed for winter. (neener neener)

The Poison Oak teases the unfamiliar with the temptation to pick their raucously loud red leaves, only to turn bright red themselves. The kids in Laytonville, who didn't get poison oak, would take their unaware teachers bouquets of them. The kids soon found out that the teacher was not as dumb as they thought, and they got to write on the blackboard for their efforts. Not me!... I think that it was my Great Grandfather. It's one of those old family tales now, that has become as familiar to me as my genetic love of this canyon.

The Maple trees spot the green hills with their bright, golden yellow leaves, like flakes of gold in a miners pan, proclaiming their rich and rare beauty. As children we would pick the twin-winged seeds of the Maple tree, break them apart, and throw them high into to air to watch them spin to the ground like a slow moving helicopter. We considered it great and good-luck if we found three seeds in one winged cluster, kind of a South Fork canyon version of a four leaved clover.

The Oak trees are lost in their fickle confusion of what color they want to be. They keep trying on colors to see how they look. They throw out the beautiful green color that they have had on all summer, then they try on yellows and reds and oranges then browns, like an aging woman trying on make-up, to make herself appear young and frivolous again. Then she throws them all away in resignation of the inevitable, and gives up her beautiful leaves for another season, where she will once again become young and new.

The oak won’t be giving you acorns this year, she gave you her all last year, and they just laid there ground and went to waste. People have lost their taste for the nutritious Oaks acorns. The Black-Tail deer enjoyed them thought, and they got fat, and there was more than one sighting of triplet fawns this year, so Mrs. Oaks abundance didn’t go completely unappreciated.

The grassy openings are tinged with green edges of grass eager to grow from our, right-on-time, fall rains. Grass, bravely bursting forth in the threat of being killed by a hard winter frost, only to try again, and always succeed.

The tweety birds are gone for the season, and the winter birds are showing up. The Ospreys are gone, and soon the Bald Eagle will come to dine on Northern Pike fish that have almost squeezed out our once generous supply of salmonids.

I just came home from one of the most beautiful places on Earth, Hawaii, and mingled with some of the most friendly people that I ever met, and ate some of the best food I ever ate. But, to come home, is a sweet feeling like nothing else, it is like coming home to the warm arms of a long trusted and faithful lover.

Some of you know what I mean!


Anonymous said...

"the arms of a long trusted and faithful lovers warm arms"?

No, I don't know what you mean, but welcome back.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Thanks anon, I thought that I had fixed that. Now I have, and people will wonder what you were talking about.

spyrock said...

good to have you home, sounds like you had a great time. i'm sorting through my files and came across the family history according to joy simmerley.
around 1870, samuel simmerly moved to round valley from marysville. frederick and john, two of his sons, moved over to spyrock by pack horse 16 miles from covelo. at that time freight was brought from petaluma to covelo by wagons. small ships could come up the peteluma creek from the bay making it the nearest supply center. the trip took two weeks. frederick ran a store and restaurant at spyrock doing well especially when the north western railroad was built.
john and his only son, guy, built up their ranch and livestock herds. after the death of guy, his two sons, ben and howard continued to buy land until they owned well over twelve thousand acres.
edith patton who was related to one of my great grandma's sisters who married milo patton talks about riding horse back 30 miles to spyrock for a dance, a man named walker played the violin, "in the country, way out there, they had old music. they would take their food and eat at midnight and dance all night until morning."
ediths dad was a wilson who ran a store, the pinches ran the other store.
it must have been nice dancing to that old time fiddle music until dawn, back in the day.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Thanks Spy, you have helped complete the history of the north end of laytonville for me.

ben said...

Aloha Ernie, Welcome home!
Spyrock, Try to find a copy of Frank Asbill's "Last of the West" He lived with some Pattons out near Hayfork when he was young. It's terribly written and very suspect historically but fun if you keep his lousy veracity in mind.

Robin Shelley said...

How about just a warm lover with long arms, 9:09? Suzy, where are you?!!

beachcomber said...

Hawaii....ahhhh..sigh....But coming home is often the best part of going away. Did you hear the honkers welcoming you guys back? It's that time of the year awright.

spyrock said...

hi ben,
that's a hard book to find. but i did find another book today, "what became of the little red school house vol 4.". it has a article called the story of round valley for boys and girls written in 1957 by mrs. charles lovell who was related to my great aunt josie who married kenneth lovell and who died in 1952. she mentioned that mrs. john haydon who was josie's older sister mary (mollie) simmerley who was born in marysville when they owned the queen city market made a replica of the old fort wright that might still be in existance at the women's club. looks like i'm related to the foster's, frederick married a hagler, lottie married a duncan, maybe the montague and the dunlap's or most of the kids that went to the old gray school around 1900. this book was partly written by ruth simmerly. philo short is standing next to fred simmerly. philo married lola and lived at island mountain who went to the spyrock school and dances and whose daughter audrey married a rohrbough and lived in the george white house after he died. check out lola short in mendocino county remembered.
aunt ruth says that "the spyrock area took it's name from the two big rocks on the east side of the eel river. lower spyrock, a tall pointed rock close to the river and upper spyrock, over a mile up the hill north, east of the lower rock. the view from these vantage points was for miles up and down the eel river canyon. it is said the local indians would spy from these rocks for their enemies, and have their battles away from their own area." my mother told me the same thing but i never knew until today where upper spyrock was. i'm sure some of these people probably knew the asbills but i don't know which ones or what kind of relationship they had.

spyrock said...

now for some bullshistory. my dad always told me that they named marysville after john simmerly's grandmother in law, mary ann chandon. the chandons were grocers and they all had come to california by covered wagon in 1849 together. she was named after queen mary as was their market, the queen city market. samuel simmerly who had married her daughter charlotte supplied the beef and their butcher was a man named alec burns so they sold meat to the miners. the town wasn't named until 1852 and i've heard other reasons for choosing the name marysville, but ours seems very plausible.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Spy, you're going to have to make me a chart. I cant figure out who begat who there.

Also, you posted twice, so I bleeped one.

I hope the Wathan (Barney) lady writes back. I’d like to talk to her. She is the second Wathen contact that left a post and disappeared.

ben said...

Spyrock.. Do you have the book "Families"? It's available from the Mendocino County Museum and is filled with pictures of the Round Valley old timers and their families. A bit expensive but well worth the price.

EkoVox said...

Did I miss something? Were you gone? I just thought you were ignoring us.

spyrock said...

i look at the old pictures of great grandma simmerly's 80th birthday back in the 40's and i don't know the names of most of them. i do have the families book that i got from the covelo public library. i do know that there wasn't alot of choice of who you were going to begat with. so the hurst sisters, joy and ruth, married the simmerly brothers, howard and ben. but howard and ben did have different mothers.
i guess that's the way it was in those days.
i'm looking for a copy of mendocino county remembered volume one. my cousin might have my copy of genocide and vendetta or i just hid it too good from myself. but i'm looking for last of the west and there are a few others out there that you can find in the libraries up there. any suggestions would be appreciated. i'm still trying to find that kroeber book. i saw it in santa cruz a few months ago and i'm going to check that book store out again. alot of this stuff they won't let you take out of the library. but a lot of these relatives are new to me and nobody else in my side of the family knows about them except penny and sharon, so i want to put the story down with pictures on a dvd someday that i can leave to future generations before it's lost again.

Robin Shelley said...

The lineage is getting hard to follow, Spy... but I sure would love to have that DVD when you get it all together.
By the way, was Ruth & Joy's last name "Hurst" or "Hurt"? As you know, my mother was a Dunlap & related to the Hurts... & so on.
I did not know there was an "upper Spyrock"... have only heard of the "lower" rock in the river... wonder what kind of vantage point that one really was for the Indians... seems a higher point would be a better watchtower.
I love your story about the naming of Marysville... I hope it's true!
I've learned much from you. Thanks.

spyrock said...

hurst as in patty. some other names are whited, chester, carey, galleneau, crabtree, english.
aunt ruth said, "were the montaque family related to the Kauble (my great grandma, or the Dunlap families? I do not remember."
"by the way, the Long children are from the family that started Long's Drugstore." if we are not related, i would be surprized. gotta go now.

ben said...

Spyrock... If you have high speed internet, check out anthro-hub. Google it and you'll find that UC has digitized most of the classic anthropology texts. Kroeber is there and tons of other stuff. The digital library is here.