Rainy's Kart & Go offered a bench where she waited for the ancient shuttle bus, 5:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Her head leaning against the cool glass window, Rebecca studied technical manuals the entire two-hour ride down and back. On Thursdays, after a flourescent-lit day of computer lab classes, Rebecca pushed open Rainy's decal-covered door, generating a familiar chime that followed
mercantile. She nodded to the local teen behind the cash register, relieved
that it wasn’t Mrs. Rainy, who required a chat at check out. Rebecca pushed a creaky cart up and down the narrow, wood-floored aisles and chose the groceries listed in her mother's gracefully formed cursive letters.
As the crow flies, the town of Bears River, built on gold rush money and giant redwood timber sales, was not so very far from the small city where most of the mountain residents did their bulk shopping. But steep mountain roads and a placid reservoir called Lake Sierra, followed by several tiny farm communities with their acres of citrus orchards and crop fields, made the bus ride long and scenic. Bears River was equidistant from the
of Los Angeles and the urban crusted hills of San Francisco but protected from big
city crowds and pollution by mountain passes, a flat stretch
of valley fertile enough to help feed the world, and an undulating march of yellow foothills.