Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Kitchen Window

Clear skies and snowy mountain peaks remind me of my mom's old kitchen window.

The window, like the house itself, was the definition of ordinary. An ordinary double hung sash above the kitchen sink in an ordinary small ranch style house on a street of other ordinary small ranch style houses.

But, on a clear day, my mom's ordinary kitchen window became extraordinary. When the sky was clear, her kitchen window framed a spectacular view.

The house I grew up in had the good fortune of being the last house on a street that dead-ended into acres and acres of fields. My mom's kitchen window was on the north side of the house and overlooked an expanse of fields capped by the San Gabriel Mountains. The view was kind of like the photo, only without the buildings.

The fields and the San Gabriel Mountains -- they were just there for the taking. At least that's how it seemed. And we appropriated it all.

The kitchen window and the mountain views were my mom's. I remember her standing over the sink looking out her window. I often heard her talk about her window and her magnificent view.

The field belonged to the kids. When not in corn, the field was inhabited by kids from our neighborhood. There were kites, football games, forts and any of a million things kids conjure up. It was our field.

At least that's how it seemed.

In truth, my mom owned the kitchen window and that's about all we could lay claim to. The field belonged to a farmer named Homer who lived in the rock house behind us. Homer had been there long before we arrived, with his horse, Dot. And my mom's mountain view? Well, who really owns a mountain view?

In time, a swath of Homer's field was acquired by the state or Caltrans or whoever takes land for freeways. A phalanx of bulldozers dug a giant trench at the north end of the field that became the Pomona Freeway. The familiar southern California story followed.

Homer's barn came down and Dot went away. The dead-end sign in front of our house was removed. New streets were paved across the field. Driveways and foundations were poured, houses framed, stuccoed and sold.

All too soon, our field was gone.

And, my mom's kitchen window, which had for a time framed such a glorious mountain view, now looked north upon the stucco side of the house next door. Her extraordinary window was now forever ordinary.

10 comments:

Brenda's Arizona said...

Wow, sweet sentiment, well written. I used to have a view of area mountains until the I-10 came along... and the little farm lane became an artery to a huge apartment complex. You have brought back my "wish"fulness. Lovely photo, too. Thanks!!

pasadenapio said...

This makes me wistful for my teen years in Bonita, Calif. I walked a half-mile every morning to a huge horse pasture where the school bus stop was. When I was in college the bulldozers came to destroy it all. We can all be thankful for idyllic memories.

Thanks for sharing yours.

Cafe Pasadena said...

Ditto de above!
All I can add to improve this post wood have been to be eating chocolate cake on national chocolate cake day while reading this.

Petrea said...

What a beautiful memory. Such development is regrettable and inevitable at the same time. You make me miss your mother's window.

Thal Armathura said...

They paved over paradise and put up a freeway! Such a shame those plans for concentric green belts for our cities never were put into practice. All the great planners and architects have mulled over our "paradise" for so many years and out of all those enlightened plans we have........

altadenahiker said...

And then your mom refused to ever wash another dish...

Pasadena Adjacent said...

When I visited my future house for the first time, even though the sink was full of the tenet's dishes, it was the view that sold me. I've read that one can own a view in places such as Laguna.

It makes me feel bad for your mom. Where was this exactly...can you say? I remember lots of oil and land around the terminus of San Gabriel Blvd

Michael Coppess said...

Thanks, PA. Actually, the site of my mom's window (and my childhood) was way out in Chino. The place still has some open fields like this one around the corner from where my dad now lives.

Above the City said...

Great story, well sad, but remember the good times! We too had a huge field out our backdoor as kids that then turned into office buildings.

Michael Coppess said...

Thanks Above the City! You "had" a field too. We do remember the good times. In our family "The Field" is talked about often, even though it hasn't existed for decades.