Sunday, October 23, 2005

Portola Valley, 2005

Yesterday we went to Snowy Bee's third birthday party. Snowy has a wide, doll-like face, straight bangs, and huge wideset eyes. Her favorite animal is elephant and she is good at throwing up her trunk and trumpeting.

For the party, her dad Joe created a big-top from big strips of red and green and blue tablecloths hoisted with a rope to the top of an old oak tree. A red sign with a grey elephant painted on it welcomed us to the circus. There was a rocket ride for the little ones, made of plywood and inside a little seat with arm straps, a rocket ride that whizzed down a cable as if it were a miniature gondola.

On the lawn there were horseshoes and a wading pool and a tent with plastic balls and a toy wooden kitchenette with Admit One tickets in great rolls sitting on top. Scout, a pit bull mix, wandered about. Orange pumpkins rolled in the dirt. Snowy remained dressed in her elephant costume even though it was hot.

Her friend Kayla was a sheep. Kayla's birth-mother is from a country on the African tectonic plate which moves about twenty-five millimeters per year. Her adoptive father was a NASA scientist for twenty years and is now a stay-at-home dad, while her adoptive mother practices plastic surgery.

The great San Andreas Fault runs through the heart of Portola Valley. The average price of a home is $1.5 million dollars. Once a woodsy, hippy hideaway, Portola Valley is now a desirable neighborhood for Silicon Valley success stories. Houses are tucked on curvy mountain roads, hidden in groves of bigleaf maples and monterey pines. At the top of Los Trancos Road is a path where you can sway on a tree swing or sit on a wooden bench or lie in a hammock and gaze at the rolling hills, the Santa Cruz Mountains, at Palo Alto beyond.

Snowy's dad Joe is an architect. He gutted the cabin that his wife Jane's sister Nancy and her CEO husband bought them when they received a stock option windfall. He put in a bamboo floor and cut giant windows in the wall. When you look out the windows you see the tops of trees and it's as if you're perched in a big treehouse.

In Portola Valley, the San Andreas fault zone divides into the Woodside and Trancos traces. The Woodside trace is located on the southwest side of the rift valley, and the Trancos trace is located on the northeast side, adjacent to Portola Road. The Woodside trace ruptured the ground surface during the 1906 earthquake.

We go inside. The cupcakes have strawberry icing and hardly any sugar. The pesto lasagna is vegetarian. The adults chat about housing prices, and Halloween plans, and the next meeting of their preschool coop. Snowy opens a present, a story about an elephant living on an island that doesn't really exist. The adults stand on the yellow bamboo floor, their feet braced as the leaves of the trees wave outside, watching the little girl open her gifts. They watch Snowy grow so slowly and so quickly that she appears to be unchanging, as the plates of her bones are shifting, shifting, transforming underneath her elephant suit, until one day, we will recognize nothing.


Blogger telfair said...

it sounds like a wonderful party!...

1:12 AM  

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