The Mountain Messenger

Sierran Birth, Part 1

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cartwright8.jpgLydia Cartwright, eight years old

When it comes to the story of your own birth, what others have told you many times eventually acquires the aura of a personal legend. You know you attended the occasion, yet the experience is missing from memory, and thus you have to take the story on faith. The legend of my birth goes something like this: On the morning of the first day of spring, March 21st, 1942, my two older brothers, Jim and Cal, aged twelve and ten, woke early in our 1890s home in Sierra City and ran excitedly downstairs and out the front door to scan the skies. But except for the threat of another winter storm, the skies that morning were empty. Disappointed, they came back into the warm kitchen where my tired but very cheerful grandmother had a pot of oatmeal on the six-burner wood range and coffee brewing, miner’s style, in the old blue and ivory spatter ware enamel coffee pot. My brothers told her they had awakened to what they thought was the unmistakable honking of Canadian ...