She lost her home not once, but twice, to wildfire. I think the home she lives in now, built in the same place as her former homes, will not be harmed if, God/dess forbid, another wildfire comes through. Its walls are built of amber colored stone, and are three feet thick. Its roof is tile, sealed in the curves so that embers with evil intent will find no welcome there. The eaves are also sealed and there are fireproof shutters to cover all the windows and doors. It is a fortress against fire, but a beautiful one. It reminds me of homes I saw when I was in Tuscany.
Gone is the dense Live Oak forest and Manzanita bushes. The whole canyon is far more open, except for the Alder trees by the creek, which is small in width but deep, with wider pools perfect for swimming.
Sitting on her stone patio, surrounded by large, elegant urns of flowers in purple, yellow, and orange, listening to the calls of birds that I never see or hear in the alpine forest where I live, I feel that I am in another country. In the distance I can see the Italian Cypresses she has planted, standing tall, narrow and deeply green against the green-brown hills that enclose the canyon. The sky is a wide swath of brilliant blue, much more sky than I am used to seeing all at once. Winding, honey colored stone steps lead down from the patio to the hot pink blooms of a carpet of ice plant (a plant that has so much water in its stems it will not burn) that surrounds her house. A stone path wends its way down a gentle slope carpeted with poppies, pale pink wild roses, Mexican Primroses, and daisies, ending at the alders by the creek.
Walking back up from the creek I see fat, furry black and yellow Bumble bees having a fine time in all the flowers. When I sit on a large rock along side the path mid-way up the slope to catch my breath, one of the Bumbles comes over to perch companionably on my knee. We regard each other for a bit, then she flies back to sing her humming song with her family. Their song, combined with the scent of the many flowers, the somnolent warmth of the day, and the quiet murmuring of the creek as it flows, so different from the rushing of the stream by my house in spring, lulls me into sleep. I awake to find one of the little jewel colored lizards that live in this canyon staring at me, no more that an inch away from my nose. It is a beautiful emerald green color and seems mildly surprised that I have opened my eyes. Then a hummingbird zooms over, startling both of us, and the little gem of a lizard is gone. I leave too, to go up to the house for dinner, then to bed to dream, not of golden California poppies, but the beautiful red poppies of Tuscany.