Stout Grove bridge, Hiouchi, CA

The Other Side

We share a driveway with our elderly neighbor to the west, as there is an easement on our property,  for the benefit of our neighbor and guests, to enter a parking area next to the front door.  The easement was created by a son-in-law, who formerly owned our home.  The easement runs with the land, and since it’s creation, there have been two owners, and we are the second.. The reason for the easement is a Circle of Stones.

The Circle of Stones are on the neighbor’s property, and inside the circle are a few plants, a small tree, and some weeds. The property’s been cleaned up lately, and once, last summer, a woman came and weeded the Circle of Stones, but without maintenance, it became a circle of stones with weeds again.  It was decided long before we got here, that it was a better idea to keep the Circle of Stones and drive on the neighbor’s land, (ours now) than to move the stones back a few feet, which is all that would be needed.

Over the years, we made ready for the 840 mile move north.  The Circle of Stones  was of little concern to us.  We didn’t mind sharing the driveway, nor did we realize until living here, how long and wide the easement actually is.  I spoke to the woman of the house a few times and she seemed to love plants and gardening, and the Circle of Stones. We thought it might seem petty of us to ask for the Circle of Stones to be moved back and the easement removed.

We purchased our house about six years ago and didn’t  live in it, until my husband retired, from 36 years with the Federal Government.  I, too, left my job, to start a new chapter in our lives here in the maritime climate of the Pacific Northwest.  We were eager to live and love our lives, amongst the giant and ancient redwoods, the pristine wild rivers, lakes and the Pacific Ocean, with it’s rugged coastline, clean air and a smaller populace.

For the past two weeks, there’s been a parade of vehicles, and I’ve not seen so many visitors in the sum of a whole year, as I have in two weeks.  Some time during the five years we worked, waited and planned, the woman had a stroke and then another.  By the time our plans came to fruition, she had deteriorated so deeply, that I would not see in her, the woman I once spoke with.

Every good day without rain, and even some that weren’t so good,  we’d see our elderly neighbor take his wife out, bundled up, in the wheelchair for a walk.  I offered my assistance, my phone number for emergencies, or my time, to walk her, but no offers were accepted.  I spoke with her playfully, and brought one of my ponies over to her several times, as animals can be so uplifting, and I’d learned that she was raised on a ranch.  I wondered if the Circle of Stones served as a reminder of just how heavy her dependence was, as she was wheeled around it, each time the wheels turned into the driveway from their front door.  I wanted to take them back to the river.

The last few days were different.  One or two people would stay the night.  I’d know this, because I go outside early every morning to feed my horses, and in a maritime climate, there’s often dew that settles on grass, cars, etc… There’s no fence between us and the driveway, and we each have a full view of any goings on.  Though my massive picture window faces a cathedral of second growth redwoods to the north, I also have an unwanted view of my neighbor’s front door and parking area.

It didn’t take a genius to figure out that my neighbor was going to pass away before too long.  This morning, though, I felt the intensity of what might have been a Prayer Circle, or intense emotion in that house.  Nothing appeared any different from the outside. I felt a need to talk with my husband about the way I was feeling, speculating what might be happening at that moment, and I cried, out of empathy.  The energy, prayer or emotion that wrapped around me was like a Circle of Stones.  I knew little and nothing about my neighbors, but I did know what I felt, and I knew.

I can’t explain the connection, how I knew, or by what means or method the knowledge and intensity circled me. It wasn’t more than a half hour after I’d had the strong, crushing feelings, that the hearse came.  I stated quietly, “She died.”  Perhaps it was her spirit, within the Circle of Stones, that I felt so strongly connected to this morning. Perhaps she was bringing me into her Circle of Stones. Perhaps there are some things that are unknowable.

True story.