The Hermit’s Handbook

When my breath had slowed I poked my head around the rough bark and faced, for the first time, the little house that Efraim had built, so close to my own. I shook my head. I blinked my eyes and shook my head and blinked again, trying to change what my eyes couldn't understand while the trees bowed and bucked above me -- it was a recurring déjà vu, a dream I had forgotten, a town I had lived in and passed one day by accident: hovering in mid-air, right before my eyes, rose the unmistakable outline that I had first seen, and drawn, and then built to be my own house!

Light poured from every window like smoke, reflecting from the deck and trees and illuminating the outside walls so clearly I could see the shingles and the underside of the overhanging roof. Everything was where I knew it would be, where, in fact, I'd placed it myself: from the overhaing slope of the salt-box roof to the cedar-shingled walls to the little roof over the front door to the wide staircase beaming down from the left side of the front deck; even the windows were arranged in the same places, the biggest one above the front door and flanked by two small ones, the door itself standing between two tall windows of the same size -- he'd copied it all. The little double squeezed stiffly between the tossing trees, an empty box glowing in the night as if it had nothing to do with anything else in this world.

The longer I studied it, though, the more I saw that something wasn't quite right. It was smaller than my house, half the size, so tiny that the windows spanned more space than the walls themselves, each side more light than shadow. And it wasn't as high as a tree house should be, drowpped around the ankles of the trees like a pair of undone pants. Though the general outline was identical to my own house, this was a strangely proportioned box, slope-shouldered, taller than it was wide, its roof stretching out so far that it looked like an upturned top had landed in the mud. It reminded me of a child's crayon drawing of my house, the shape recognizable but each line veering off on its own, the angles dangerously askew. Even the smoke, rising from the middle of the back roof as my own did, curled from the pipe like a child's drawing: and what would I look like, I shivered, if Efraim drew a picture of me?

-- Jack Barry, The Hermit's Handbook (Ashfield, MA: Down-to-Earth Books, 2004), 192-93.

Scout’s Miwok Research

MIwok millstone

1. Google: Miwok kidfriendly

2. Miwok, First People of California: A Set on Flickr

3. Google: Miwok shelter

4. Miwok Material Culture: Indian Life of the Yosemite Region (1933): Shelter

5. Miwok Material Culture: Indian Life of the Yosemite Region (1933): Sweat-House

6. Brandon Smith's Indian Tribe Report

7. Miwok Park Fact Sheet

8. Google: Miwok houses, clothing and food

9. California Indian Food and Culture (PDF)