Tag Archives: childhood

Mendocino, California

I was born near Oakland and lived in that area until age 9. But then we moved to Mendocino, a little tourist town about four hours up the coast.

Recently, an aerial shot of Mendocino was shared on Facebook, which caused me to reminisce, which in turn resulted in me dragging you for a brief jaunt into my past.

Big River and Mendocino - Photo shared by Rick Hemmings and Charles Reinhart on Facebook

We’d visited the place since I was born, first in a mobile home on a piece of property my grandparents had bought in nearby Little River, then in a lovely house that was built to replace it. So it was already a home away from home. But living there made it a big part of me.

Me on Big River Beach, circa 1973

It’s hard to even describe what it was like there, the raw beauty, the isolation, the intense connection to the ocean. The bonds that form living in a small town under those conditions.

My Dad and I with Mendocino in the background, circa 1975

I haven’t been back there since 2006 when we drove through briefly, just stopped long enough to see if my senior picture is still hanging up on the high school wall with all the other graduates since the school began in the late 1800’s. I haven’t been back there and actually stayed to enjoy the place since 1994. While I was there I wrote the following poem, which I can’t figure out how to properly format here to save my life:

Return to Mendocino

You are in my veins again—

Ebb and flow of

steel cold blue,

Desert green on a

dark gray cliff,

Creeping hiss of

white lace foam.

Cliff face chills

my resting bones,

My pulse makes time

with pounding tide,

Pores absorbing

salty spray,

Familiar drug—


Not home anymore. Home is wherever I am, and Mendocino is always with me, so we will always be home together.

Playing in the Woods

There are maybe a couple acres of trees next to our home, with a fenced-in cell tower in the middle.

The little kids like to pretend it is “The Forest,” even though at this time of year, with everything dead and just some bare tree trunks visible, one can see clear through the entire thing to mobile homes on the other side.

Lately I’ve been having a lot of fun taking my little ones out there and making trails. It reminds me of being a kid and playing in the woods.

I try to imagine how the trees will fill out so as to plot trails that will be fun, intersecting at certain points, veering off, leading to adventure.

How pathetic is it that I resent the kids when they whine that it’s cold and they wanna go inside?

I certainly am not allowed to do anything inside: write, think, cook, clean, sew. I figure, at least outside we can do something together that everyone will enjoy.

I want my kids to be outdoors. I want them to take advantage of the “Forest” right next to us and let the trees house fairies, let them chase squirrels and bunnies, allow their eyes to soak in the natural shapes and colors.

When they think back on their childhood, I want them to remember something that wasn’t on a screen.

Maybe when they’re old enough to go out there on their own (the littlest ones are 2 and 4) it will be different. There won’t be some crochety adult cramping their style. They can be in charge of the jungle, in tune with the wild, absorbed in their own imaginations.

Meanwhile, step aside, young’uns. I got a trail to blaze.