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Veronique de Turenne

O pioneers

You can't find it unless you're looking for it. Even then, it's not that easy to reach. But tucked away in a wild and untouched quadrangle of land in Santa Monica Canyon lie the graves of my friend, Ernie Marquez' relatives.

Ernie's is one of the original land grant families. He wrote a lovely book about the history of the place. His childhood memories of playing all day in the undeveloped hillsides, of abundant wildlife, oak thickets and fast-running streams sound like a fairy tale. The family lost the land by means as sneaky and unfair as those used on the native peoples who came before.

All that's left of Ernie's childhood home is this family cemetery, hemmed in on all sides by by the walled back yards of modern houses. A few marked graves, and many more unmarked. Ernie waters, he prunes, he communes. He's fighting a slow and expensive legal battle to keep this site in his family.

It's quiet back there, warm and sunny on the day we visited, the air heavy with the sound of bees. Sit real still and you can hear old California.
Burial site in Santa Monica Canyon

Next entry: Stocking stuffer

More by Veronique de Turenne:
Good night, 2016
Congratulations Lidia and Dan!
Rain and maybe more rain
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Previous story: Solstice sunrise

Next story: Stocking stuffer

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