Over the countless years I've visited my mom in Oakhurst, California, I finally learned the most important lesson of my life.
Somewhere I have a picture of the simply modest 40-foot single wide trailer my mother lives in. I have visited her there at least once a year since her arrival in Oakhurst some 28 years ago. The trailer, after a year or so, was moved from its original location, a narrow dusty spot backed up against Road 425B, to where it rests now on a slab of Yosemite granite surrounded by ancient live Oak trees.
Every year, upon my return, I found peace and harmony abiding there. Was it the mother and daughter (child) reunion I craved, was it the escape from my own life that gave me solitude?
My mother is the daughter of an Englishman. My granddad, H.H. Forward, was a gardener by profession. My grandmother, Annie, spent hours wondering the foothills near San Diego, California, in tall grass and wildflowers with her daughter, my mother. It's not surprising then that my mother's small parcel of land is beautifully landscaped. Every shade of green you can imagine is represented in the trees and small plants nestled among the pieces of strewn granite. In the spring and summer months, color abounds in the flowers growing in the potholes of the rock. Wind blows through the Oak trees during the fall and winter months. The sound is comforting and the plink, plink, plink of the acorns hitting the tin roof always catches one by surprise. ("The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves." John Muir)
All types of potted plants, including Bonsai, fill the screened patio. Original seascape paintings hang on the outside wall of the trailer. Cherished beach rocks and shells picked up by my children sit on shelves painted dark brown. A sculptured deck is balanced on the granite below and river washed pebbles fill the rest of the floor space. Pots filled with blooming flowers sit amid the rocks. A wooden table beckons you to sit and rest and enjoy the view.
Inside my mother's home, partly due to very limited space, every single thing has its place. If you open the cupboards you'll find brightly colored dishes, placemats and cloth napkins, beautiful wine glasses, and everything in limited number. Dixieland Jazz plays on the CD player. The familiar aroma of coffee and perfume fill the air.
Somehow, in all my travels there, I'd missed noting the yearly changes in her yard and home. The way it looks today is how I've always remembered it to be. I thought, why doesn't my house, my yard, bring me this rich feeling of being home? It didn't dawn on me, until I began helping out while spending my days with her, that it was a process that began the day she moved the trailer across the road to where it sits now. Day by day, year by year, plant by plant, rock by rock...she created for herself this setting of peace and rest. She toiled each season to create this niche in her world.
Emily said today, "I love the comfort of my home." I love the peace and tranquility I find in my home too. I finally created it.