As my new book, Inherited Silence, moves toward publication in July 2022, I’ve been thinking about its underlying themes—the history we have not reckoned with and the urgency of doing so. The story that follows came up in a writing group as I sat on zoom in the circle of women whose energy helped birth the book. The words that came prepared me for the death of my sister shortly after, and the violence about to explode in Ukraine—the sadness and fear of what might follow.
A dream came weeks before we knew how serious the pandemic would be, much less the nightmare police killings and the uprising to preserve Black and Brown lives. I knew this dream was about something big but back then it was hard to know how big. In the dream, I was floating through moving water at the eastern edge of the continent, in a huge tidal river making its way through a city to the ocean. Other floaters at a distance, all of us picking up speed, no […]
By guest writer, Patricia St. Onge
What am I doing here? Yesterday, I was sitting on my mama’s lap. Her heart was beating fast… it’s been happening more and more as we’ve been on this magical adventure. Moving every day, walking on different paths, finding new foods to eat. The roots taste different, the flowers have different smells. Every night as the sun goes to bed, the sky shines with different colors; reds and oranges when we were still near home. The night before last, the last time […]
There are contradictions as I write about the Napa land and my ancestors’ relationship with genocide. One of them is in our language—the word “settle,” the idea of settling and the settler. There may be hidden potential in that word, a way to heal.
When I started this book, the term “settler” filled me with shame. It evoked my great, great grandfather, Nathan Coombs, the one who came here in the early 1840s, before the gold rush in California, before statehood. The Bear Flagger who was so successful […]
“How did you get so lucky?” There’s awe in the voices of friendly tradespeople in small trucks, who find their way up to our place to fix the sprinkler system or check for termites—and look around in wonderment. Their work takes them to so many places tucked away in the Napa hills, but somehow this one stirs them. Maybe it’s the unpaved road winding through the huge live oaks as if into deep time. Forty years ago, my father did a beautiful job laying it out past […]