From the top of those hills you looked out over a small valley. And, just as promised, three quonset huts nestled in the shadow of the south range. I didn't stay more than an hour that first day. Long enough to find out that the huts were home to various desert creatures but generally in good shape. Two were empty of furniture; the third, and biggest, was furnished with a sturdy bed, table,  and wood-burning stove. There was a windmill--Aunt Ruth had mentioned an underground spring--but it looked like it would topple in the next duster.

The valley floor was dotted with tamarisk and sage and a few ocotillo cacti. The jagged, dark surrounding mountains lived up to their name--they looked like broken bars of semi-sweet chocolate.

After that, I hurried back to Los Angeles.  In the following  days I thought about how I might make the property into a weekend retreat--but I got defeated right away by the water obstacle. Cleaning out a well seemed like an impossible task.

Still, I was nostalgic for the beauty of the place. The air and the colors. The soft pastels of the valley floor, the ring of mountains, the hush and distance. I would think about the desert air and the quiet while I sat on my narrow balcony and watched the comings and goings, listened to the hubub at the Home Mart.

About this point in my story, you would expect some radical change to come.