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Our readers write from Sonoma County, Calif.

(Editor's note: Olena Kraynyk is a student in the Sonoma County Library's Adult Literacy Program. Her tutor is Linda Dunlap.)

A winter walk in the hills

by Olena Kraynyk (from Russia)

Immigrants come to America for different reasons. Some look for a job, others want to join their families. But what is a job for 75-year-old woman?

My relatives arranged my life perfectly. I felt comfortable in all. Nevertheless my soul grieved over the past. I called up old memories, missed my friends and native home. It was impossible to repress tears.

Now I live in the little city of Petaluma, California. One day I went to Helen Putnam Park, situated in the picturesque hills. I hiked up slowly and stopped sometimes to look all around. Our small town stayed somewhere far down in the valley. It was squeezed by hills from every side. The park appeared like a wilderness, open green glades and dense oak woods. I walked in winter time, in cloudy weather. A light breeze blew, and bright, lush grass swung like waves. The grey moss beards on the branches of the dark evergreen oaks waved in the wind. The light oak's trunks were divided into several thick branches, reminding me of the monsters in Russian tales. There was no one else around. I walked by mystery paths, up and down hills. Excited, I saw plain but wonderful grass and flowers just the same as in my native country, as well as fallen trees. Sometimes the sun peered out and all nature changed. What a wealth of color! The tears dried on my eyes, and I became calm. I was like a part of this wonderful nature.

Since that time I've walked alone often, and have seen charming trees, grass, bushes, birds, and animals. I understood that loneliness had some advantage. You can see the world: alive, changeable, and fine.