As a child growing up in the mountains of a gold town called Yankee Jim’s I lived in an old house, which in the days of the gold rush, it was the home of the mayor of Yankee Jim’s. It was a two-story house which was over a century old, up on a hill overlooking the hillsides and canyons around this heavily wooded area. Behind the hill over the ridge, was an area that was like a desert.
We lived on a large 12-acre farm with pine trees mixed also with all manner of fruit trees such as cherry, apple, pear and peach along with apricot too. There was even a huge walnut tree that grew over the roof of the house filled with black walnuts that would fall and make the sound of gunshots as they hit the tin roof on the Upper Floor where my bedroom was.
We weren’t long there before my father began doing repairs and renovations on the old house finished in the 1800’s. Before we moved into it the previous owner had a few peacocks that lived on the property that would slide down those tin roofs where corrogated tin came together at sections in each corner of the roof. I would picture those large peacocks sliding down the roof like children sliding in a playground.
One of the things about Yankee Jim’s is I was told you could go into the small creeks and streams anywhere around there and pan for gold and you’d be sure to find some flakes.
I ended up buying a donkey when I was 10 out of the money I saved from cleaning houses of the neighbors who would come up in the summer time only and leave their houses alone, empty and abandoned and I would take care of them while they were gone, I would also make money babysitting for my mother so this is the money I used to buy my first ride, my donkey, Isabel. We would go and stumble all through the hills and I would stop and pan for gold wearing a hat like an old miner pretending I was really a miner and as doing this and it was such a joyful pursuit because I would find flakes of gold up there.
My step dad would help me save them by putting them in a small glass vial of water so they wouldn’t be lost.
It amazes me at how heavy those golden flakes were and how they would stay at the bottom without floating up, so very heavy, That’s why I would find them, they were the heaviest pieces in the whole pile of dirt that I put inside of that pan and that’s what I learned at a young age; that gold is the heaviest of all metals and rock. It isn’t a rock it’s a metal, but you find it in rock.
Yankee Jim’s was a booming town in the day that it was discovered a gold mining extravaganza. In the back area they had washed all the topsoil off and we called it the Diggings, because that’s what it was. That’s where they dug for the gold and where they use the big dredgers and those giant water cannons would wash all of the vegetation and topsoil off of the earth so they could get all the gold out of the earth that they could find. One thing they did leave behind in which I found a lot of them were quartz crystals beautiful quartz crystals.
I will continue this story later but I’m beginning it because I would like to share some things that happened there during this brief span of time I grew up there as a child. It began my life of wonder of course it was began long before then because I didn’t move up there until nine years old and went to the Foresthill Union Elementary School in town three miles away.
This section of the beginning of my story I’m calling, Headdress of Turtle Feathers because the time spent with my brothers and sisters would be much of the time playing cowboys and indians up in the hills where we had these huge leafy fronds that came from a tree that was not natural to the area but was actually a tropical tree that had leaves which appeared as giant feathers we would put into our hair and stood proudly and whooped, as though we were Indians and we called these leaves Turtle feathers. Why did we call them Turtle feathers? I will leave you time to think about that before I come again with more of this story hopefully by the time I return you’ll know why we called them Turtle feathers. If you don’t know by then I might tell.