In the late 1800s my great grandparents emigrated from Ireland to Yosemite Valley. I spent my childhood there, along with my brothers and sisters, in a house that Great Grandpa built. That rambling house was situated by a meadow near the Merced River.
Swimming in the Merced was a favorite pastime on long summer afternoons. The enchantment of the river drew me into a magical world populated by dragonflies that hovered around me, birds that sang from the branches of trees along the riverbanks, and little fish that darted about as I swam among them.
When I was really young, my two big sisters loved using me as their real live dress up doll. They decided, one day, to dress me up as The Highwayman, the namesake character in the poem by Alfred Noyes. It was a tribute to their passion for poetry and literature, or so they claimed. But I was not impressed. At four years old, I did not relish playing the role of a character NOT living happily ever after.
Our Yosemite house was chockablock with books, oral poetry recitations and, above all else, love. Encouraged by my family and inspired by the natural world around me, I spent countless hours drawing pictures and creating imaginary worlds where my characters lived.
Driven by a love of learning and the desire to pass my passion for literature on to youngsters, I became an elementary school teacher. I got my undergraduate degree at UCLA and went on to earn a Master’s in Education along with a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from UCLA as well.
For over three decades now, I have been teaching young children at Roosevelt Elementary School in Santa Monica, California. My classroom is just a few blocks away from the Pacific Ocean. I love watching as young writers discover their voices.
My husband, Homi Hormasji, and I live in the shadow of UCLA. But we travel to my beloved Yosemite to visit our family and friends as often as we can. They, along with the oceans, mountains and valleys that surround us, make my world complete.