in Friant, CA
is where the heart is for 5
late summer so we have foil on the windows to cut the heat
and glare from the sun. We sleep in a tent in the backyard
because our little house is just too hot. As I write this,
a feisty yellow jacket is trying to gain entrance through
a torn screen. The "snake proof' fence my father
engineered some forty years ago is now falling down in
places. Needless to say, it is no longer snake proof. And
it looks like someone, at one time, tried to drive through
our gate without first opening it. When winter comes, so
do the rains. Then it's time to worry about the leaky
flashing around the lopsided chimney my great uncle built
or the cold invading the house through a damper-free
fireplace. Home is a contractor's paradise and a
"city-dweller's" nightmare. The need for repairs
seems endless and sometimes even insurmountable.
Wagner Family Cemetery, Friant, CA
Home is the land of my
great-grandparents, the Wagners, who first settled here in
1856. Home to bobcat, coyote, hawk, quail, and owl and,
yes, even the occasional rattlesnake. Home to a one-eyed
feral cat and a persnickety Schnauzer named Fred. Home to
the house my father built and my parents lived in for
almost 25 years. To a ranch where I spent weekends of my
youth digging for arrowheads or swimming in the windmill
bits of obsidian, there are memories here in abundance. I
love this place and now, too, so do my children. So we
small discomforts because we take comfort in what we have
gained from living up here in these untamed foothills. A
sense of pride
in being able to say we are the 4th and 5th generations
living here; an understanding of what it takes to actually
endure and, more
importantly, conquer one hardship after another; and,
finally, a greater appreciation for each other,
individually and as family.
The Plains In 1856
Helm with her children,
on the San Joaquin River
Wagner, circa 1930.
Sheppard's bunkhouse on property.
Ponderosa, Linda Helm, a mother and law school graduate,
understands the value communication services bring to help
her carry on her family heritage ̶ for her children
and future generations.
spring wagon, mid-1800's.