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Down Darby Lane

Watching the Girl to Safety

Seven in the morning, and the mountain is bathed in mist, clouds hanging low and blanketing the pines in a wash of spring, pastel colors. I am walking my dog on a quiet road – absent the sound of cars, people. Machines of any kind. It’s only the occasional call of a crow or screech of a Stellar jay to remind us we are in a neighborhood, albeit one many miles away from city life.

We turn a corner to walk up a gentle slope that sends us in a loop, past homes, and cars that have become familiar over the years. Where ponderosa and cedar trees reach high enough to tickle low clouds. A place where neighbors will later come outside to rake and stack twigs and boughs that fell to the abundant winter snows. I know that soon a handful of children will leave their homes to catch the school bus at the end of the road, and there will be laughter and shenanigans and parents sitting in their cars waiting to know that little feet have climbed into the bus and will be delivered to school safely.

This morning, as I look up the road to the hilltop I see a small figure emerge from a driveway and start walking down the hill toward me. Almost ghostlike, it’s hard to discern if girl or boy is slowly heading my way. Then, just behind the child, I see an adult emerge and stand in the center of the road. I recognize now that it’s a neighbor who has a daughter whom I’ve watched grow at least four inches taller over the past ten months. The daughter, I remember, looks enough like her mother to be a twin, although now, in her early teen years, is now as tall as her mother.

Mom stands in the road wearing something that looks like a white robe, her arms crossed across her chest to chase away the cool dampness of the morning. The girl walks along the roadside, staring forward, looking down, and never looking back. They are both ghostlike in the mist, and I slow to watch the simple tableau unfolding. It’s perhaps two blocks to the bus stop corner. The girl will be early. Soon, her figure clears the translucence of the fog, and I see her clearly. I continue slowly up the hill, so she does not know I am watching. That she is being watched from behind, by her mother who has not moved from her station. We pass by her, and I say, “Good Morning.” She responds with only a glance in my direction, no smile. I wonder if she likes her school. I wonder if she is popular or teased. I hope she is happy.

Mom remains firm in her place, and I see now she’s wearing a light-colored dress with a tie around the waste. A style that my grandmother used to call a “house dress.” Her daughter reaches the corner and takes up her vigil for the yellow bus that will ferry her to noise, friends, a teacher whom I hope she likes. The dog and I quicken our pace up the hill, and I see Mom unfold her arms, pause a second and walk slowly into the driveway of the home she shares with the teenager. The home they bought in the mountains where it’s safe enough to play in the streets and roam through the forest alone. Still, she steps outside in her light dress on this chill spring morning to watch her daughter leave home and board the bus that carries her to a life that’s hers alone.



Friends and Readers,

A note about most of us, for better and worse, in the Arts. I think we long to share our thoughts and creations - and without you, we are lonely. Imagine, you wrote a beautiful piece of music and no one but you (and perhaps your cat) ever got to hear it. Or painted a picture that no one else but you ever saw, or wrote a story that no one but you read. Sharing is everything for people in the arts and your support is fundamental to the continued creativity of all artists. So, Thank you! 

Hey! Check out this awesome article by popular columnist Ed Goldman - it's about moi! Also subscribe to his clever, witty and smart blog!  

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My Mountain Mystery

My book has gotten fab reviews on Amazon! I am so excited readers like the characters, the setting, the plot - minus lots of graphic violence. 

If you are fond of 'cozy' mysteries please read The Song of Jackass Creek. Check out Reviews HERE.

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Short Story Collection 

Twisted is - twisted! And Gypsy's Wedding - well, you just have to be there!  Click on the books to see more ... 

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Sample Amazon Reviews

This is an excellent writer!

Darby Patterson is truly a talented writer. She describes this little town sweetly without boring the reader with unimportant detail, and her descriptions are vivid. She also develops her characters fully through conversation and action so the reader becomes acquainted with the main players and can form pictures of them early in the book. Her characters' thoughts, interactions, and past activities combine to portray the culture of Redbud throughout the story, and the story itself is creative and holds surprises along the way. I too hope Ms Patterson continues to share her talents with us!

Sondra Jensen

Awaiting the next installment

An invitation to linger in this vanishing part of California which has so much history is writ on every page of this book. I've visited places like Redbud with a creek burbling in the background as gentle breezes sough through the pines and cedars. I've found them quaint and rich with fascinating local lore and history. Jesse, as publisher of the local weekly is very nicely sketched, the authors background as a journalist comes through clean and clear in developing him. This small California mining and logging town scrabbling to hang on, I liked very much as a setting. I wouldn't mind sitting down with Jesse and having a beer and help him solve his next mystery. The test of a good book is whether you'd be willing to read it again, later. This book passes that test and I can't wait for the next installment.

Jack Howard


Please let this be the first of a series!

Wonderful book; adult without being ‘R’ rated, complex story and well developed characters. The people of ‘Redbud’ ring true and, as a native Californian, the lumber, real estate and politics are spot on. I hope this is the beginning of a series because the author has created characters you want to know better.

D. Holmes

My other passion
Sculpting for bronze - See more HERE
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