Mountain Aire, CA

Friday, May 28, 2010 Sonora, California

I write this from the somewhat small town of Sonora, California. My pals and I are here for the Furthur Festival at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds. Myron and I came in late yesterday afternoon after an all day airport event starting in Columbus, Ohio. Yeah… living the dream. Being on East Coast time I was up at 0430 and couldn’t go back to sleep. Oh well… Anyway, Myron and I found a breakfast café in Jamestown which was only a couple of miles away from our hotel. Down home food at California prices. That’s OK. I’m in California.

When I came out of my room into the parking lot of the hotel, I was greeted by that forest mountain smell that you only find in the west coast of the United States. My Mom, may she rest in peace, used to live on Talmont up in North Shore Tahoe. It always smelled like that up at her house on the side of the mountain overlooking the lake.

The smell of these trees in the early morning transported me back decades. We would visit her up there, Vanessa and I, and drink in the surroundings of those ancient trees. It was a delightful taste I will never forget.

May 8th was the twelfth anniversary of my Mom’s journey beyond the stars. It slipped by me unnoticed this year. Sadly I notice that as time passes there are indeed more memories than a heart can predictably hold. I’m sure my memory will be just as fragile when my time comes, but that is as it should be. I miss Mom always. I miss her advice whether or not I chose to take it. That too is as it should be.

In the late eighties, Mom moved back down from the mountain to Mill Valley, California. The thin air of the High Sierras was too difficult for her aging lungs to negotiate. She loved these mountains with all her heart and when she moved back down to the Coast she said goodbye to what might have been the most serene twenty five years of her life. Even now twelve years after her passing and twenty one years after she gave up the house on Talmont , when I work in North Shore Tahoe someone is sure to say, I remember that name, Kaukonen. I think I saw it in a newspaper in the seventies or eighties. That would have been my Mom or Dad trying to fix some perceived wrong in the community. That would have been Bea or Jorma Sr.

On this morning up here in Calaveras County, for a brief moment she walked with me again as I breathed in the evergreen air of this magnificent California landscape. I smelled the mountains, and the trees and the wood smoke and I could hear her voice in a distant whisper of memory. When I would call her in the last years of her life, I would ask, ‘How are you Mom?’ and she would say, ‘I’m here Jerry, I’m still here.’

You know, in that corner of my heart where love always lives surrounded by the memories of my life, she still is… here.

  1. James Mears
    June 19th, 2010 at 13:18 | #1

    I really enjoyed reading your comments about your mother and her place in the woods of Tahoe. I always loved that smell, too. I’m 59 yo now and I find that I wish that I’d had more appreciation for my Mom’s journey through life when she was alive. Maybe it is always the case that kids don’t recognize their parents until they are gone. Anyway, thanks for these words.

  2. July 21st, 2010 at 07:29 | #2

    Hi Jer’

    It’s me, the Mar’. I really love this little piece about your Mom. I remember her best for her subtle humor, love of literature and art. On the bumpy road to Bontoc to see the rice terraces, she recited funny poems to keep down our fear of our car falling off the mountain road and when we hit a big pot hole or rock , she would exclaim “woof”. As the road got worse, we were all saying woof. I loved the way she filled your house in Manila with paintings by artists from everywhere she had lived. She liked to support local artists, one I remember especially, a night painting of a lighted bridge over the Manila river. The time I spent with your family was a real awaking for a teenager who had only seen life from behind a picket fence. Life around them seemed to be lit from within, not always beautiful, but full of sharp details.
    Anyway, I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. Keep up the good words.

  3. Emil Ferzola
    October 25th, 2010 at 21:22 | #3

    Brought a tear to my eye and made me remeber my Mom as well. Thanks for the beautful words.

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