The Kenwood Press|
The sparkle and the bell
In early January our family returned home refreshed by aloha spirit and extended family. On the plane we were lamenting again that SDC had officially closed while we were on Kauai. To have missed that heady moment weighed heavy on us. We wondered what it would feel like to have only a ‘warm-shutdown’ as a neighbor. Our flight to Oakland arrived after midnight and so it was in the wee-hours that we drove through Eldridge on the last few minutes of our journey. The stillness was expected, the peace on earth was gone, but up ahead the icicle lights on the Jim Berkland Bridge were still aglow. We were very grateful to see that sparkle.
The rest of that weekend we went about those after-vacation tasks we all dread. Kids were getting ready for the transition back to school, the dogs and farm needed our attention, and I continued to think about our neighbor. I was surprised and again grateful to hear the five o’clock bell on that first evening back. One of our great concerns was that we hadn’t heard the “last bell.” We even toasted to this sad possibility in Hawaii on New Year’s Eve.
Now, as we press on towards a month in, we’ve lost the sparkle of the bridge lights and we wonder, with a sense of dread, when we will hear the last SDC bell, and how will we know (?) until we realize on some random day that 5 p.m. has passed in silence. We’ve also noticed that Eldridge is terribly dark at night. Streetlights are not coming on. I’ve heard that multiple folks have expressed concern about this from a safety standpoint, both on social media and by communicating to the supervisor. As direct property-line neighbors, our biggest concern during this transition phase is the improper use of mostly un-policed facilities and any associated dangers that might bring.
I blame the colder weather, the slowdown of farm chores, and the fact that my job as a university professor means I have five weeks off for winter break, two of which are when my kids have gone back to school. Each January is a flurry of clean out in our house. Some folks have spring cleaning, I have the urge for winter cleaning. This is not in Marie Kondo-style, nor sparked by that apparent sensation, but it has roughly the same effect with, perhaps, less organized outcomes. Clothing, closet cleaning, shoes, bathroom cabinets, paperwork, etc. Now that I’m back to teaching, it carries on and will continue, typically, through tax filing.
Nature also shuffles out the brown of winter about now and we start to glimpse hints of the spring to come. On our end of the valley, that comes in the form of daffodils popping up, their little heads of yellow and white reminding us that the world will start blooming with many other colors in the not so distant future. And this year, driving along Dunbar Road the daffodils remind us of the spirit of community carrying on.
My crazy January clean out also involved going through the dreaded email inbox where I found several interesting reminders of the last year. I have to admit that I dug only deep enough to hit “fire aftermath” in earnest and could go no further. But, I did make it to this – written about a year ago and sent to school administrators at the Sonoma Valley High School, Altimira Middle School, and Dunbar Elementary:
“Good morning, administrators who service students from the north end of the valley… I wanted you to be aware that yesterday scores of large trucks began to roll into town and start the monumental process of cleaning up the burned home lots. There was palpable joy within our community yesterday and yet, simultaneously this process brings up many raw emotions. Most people have given up hope of finding any last bits of their former life, but it can’t be easy to watch the remainder of the ashes and debris be stripped away and taken off in a truck. On some level it has to feel like someone is driving away with a part of your heart. And for those of us who were fortunate enough not to lose our properties, watching truck after truck full of people’s lives (your friends’, neighbors’, family’s lives) is also very intense. I’m sharing this with you because I think it’s important to understand the context in which your students and staff are living day to day on this end of the valley. You may see changes in behavior over the next week and therefore it’s good for you to know, possibly, where this might be coming from… At least in part. Thank you for all you do for the families of this valley…”
A year ago, although it feels like both a lifetime away and just yesterday. Some things so quickly changing and others not at all. This is a long road for our community. One small piece of this puzzle came together yesterday when the first shed (purchased from United Way funds via Glen Ellen Forum) was constructed this past weekend.
The buzz from around the bendThe old gristmill space at Jack London Village has been vacant since Avantine closed but now we are hearing encouraging news about the impending opening of The Mill, which is boasting to be both an eatery and brewery. There is a lot of buzz around this one; let’s hope it lasts.