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Published: June 28th 2008
We had another relaxing day today. Keely wanted to show me her childhood home in Modjeska Canyon so we drove around the area. Modjeska Canyon is named after the Polish stage actress, Helena Modjeska, who settled in the canyon in the late 19th century. We drove past Keely's old house and then found a spot to park the car. A few kids were playing basketball in a park and we walked past and headed up the mountain a little way. It was nice to be out in the countryside and it was fun to be on a local walk with Keely again even though this time we were picking our way over dry twigs and rocky ground instead of tramping though the muddy fields I showed her in England. We didn't see much in the way of wildlife, although there were plenty of holes in the ground which Keely said were probably made by snakes. We picked our along an uneven path along the mountain slope. From the path we could look across the valley and other mountains. On the side of one mountain was a strange rocky outcrop that looked like a face. Keely told me the legend that goes
There was once a great chieftan of the modjeska valley, and when the american settlers came he bargained with them and both groups lived in peace. He reigned for almost 60 years in peace, successfully trading with the settlers and every one lived in tolerance and peace. On the night he died there was a great storm, and lightning stuck the side of a mountain, carving his face into it. Since then, for more than a hundered years, the profile is still there, and nothing has grown on it.
There is also now a family of golden eagles living on the image of the chief and because of them Modjeska Canyon has been saved from any further development.
We left our mountain trail and returned to the main street. We walked past Helena Modjeska's house which is supposed to be open to visitors at certain times, but all we could do was peer through the gate. The Polish actress emigrated to southern California in 1876 with her husband and son and several friends, including Julian Sypniewski and Henryk Sienkiewicz, future author of Quo Vadis. They founded a utopian Polish colony on a ranch that Modjeska
and her husband bought near Anaheim.
The utopian experiment failed, the colonists went their separate ways, and Modjeska returned to the stage, reprising Shakespearean roles that she had acted in Poland.
We continued our walk and I got my first close up view of a hummingbird - it buzzed past my ear which made me jump a mile, I couldn't believe how loud the sound of its wings were from that close. As we returned down the main street we saw one of Keely's old neighbours and in typical American fashion he called us over, welcomed me to America, invited us in and then set about finding us food and drink. I can't believe how welcoming everyone here is. I have to admit sometimes it's a bit more than I can cope with. having perfect strangers joking and yelling and fooling around with me like old friends is sometimes a bit too much to take. Not surprising from the other point of view Americans seem to think the English too reserved.
It was nice to have a rest though and chat. We sat out on the terrace in the back graden which was beautiffuly kept with so many plants
and flowers. The view across the back was surprisingly green and fecund and i saw several more hummingbirds. I finally got a photograph of one, although it was too tiny to show up in the picture. We eventually said our goodbyes and headed homeward again.
We had a quiet evening at home. Keely and Trevor went out in search of ice cream and I curled up with the cats. Then we lit candles and insense and trevor played his Hawaiin guitar while we had ice cream and tea. Very relaxing.
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