by Erika Holt
I wrote “Down Here in the Garden” shortly after I moved to California. It was during the midsummer heat, and Donner Pass was populated with vacationing families. It was a gorgeous, idyllic camping spot. Touchingly, a child had left a mason jar of dried beans at the Donner Party memorial, and a drawing of a covered wagon and pioneer stick figure girl. Beneath it in crayon: “To Patty Reid, aged 8.” At once, I felt transported back one hundred and fifty years to this same lake.