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.