Silverado

Cook Peak Review, 2005  |  By Liz Cook, Edited Every girl should own a horse. Before we moved to Cook Peak, the only horse I owned was made of plastic. My wildest dream came true when my grandparents gave me their horse; an Arabian named Silverado. I was the happiest girl in the universe because…

The Spider

Liz chose the larger of the two bedrooms. The draw of a spacious walk-in closet, and a window with a view of the lake if you stood on your tippy-toes, made the decision easy for a pre-teen. She decorated her walls with boy band posters and her shelves with nicknacks from her fleeting childhood. Inside…

The Fire, Part 2

Mt. Mesa was in chaos. I stood on the street corner by the local market and watched for my in-laws, for David, for anyone to find me. There were many cars, horses and people who stood in shock like me with saucer eyes. Emergency vehicles with sirens sped up McCray toward the fire and disappeared…

The Bear

The wildest animal I encountered in the city was a desert tortoise. It belonged to the neighbor at the end of our street and went missing after digging a hole under their backyard fence. We discovered it crawling up our driveway toward our open garage. There were plenty of wild creatures on our cul-de-sac. We…

Sheldon

Sheldon was The Cat of Cook Peak. We rescued him from Hart Park in Bakersfield on a hot July evening at dusk. Often we took the scenic route home through the park, hoping to see the peacocks roaming alongside the road. Near the old train bridge, there was an enormous clutter of cats. Among them…

Hernia Dog

His name is Luke, but I call him Hernia Dog. When Luke was a puppy, he had a hernia that protruded from his underbelly like a fifth appendage. Liz and her friend, Kat, had visited a breeder outside of Bakersfield. While Kat got acquainted with her new energetic puppy, Liz noticed its calm, defective litter…

The Fire, Part 1

July 6, 2016 I thought it would be easy to sit down and describe what happened to me, but it wasn’t. Keep in mind that my story pales in comparison to those told by neighbors and strangers, especially by those who lost everything in the Erskine Creek Fire. My house stinks. I must be getting…

Ann Was Here

I have lived overseas, circled the globe numerous times and met people from some of the most exciting places. But the day after I graduated from high school, I returned to the United States and was assimilated. Bakersfield, California is where I settled. I left for a couple of years to attend art school in…

Cement Pond

We ripped out the lawn and filled our tiny backyard with a giant above-ground pool; leaving our Schnauzer with only a flower bed for relief. We built the perfect Sunset magazine redwood deck that hugged the vinyl on two sides and connected to our spa. We purchased patio furniture with matching umbrellas and landscape lights that…

Obituary for a Sheep

Jeffery, a long-time resident of Cook Peak, died Tuesday, April 26, 2016, at the ripe old age of twelve. That’s sixty-four in human years and quite an achievement for a sheep! He will always be remembered for his massive wool coat, happy disposition, and keen observational skills, which served as an alarm system. Born in…

Snow

In 1999, it snowed enough to build a snowman in Bakersfield. We bundled the girls and bolted out the front door into a glorious, unexpected Wonderland. Friends called, wanting us to explore the city, but we declined, sure of weather-related mayhem on the streets of Bakersfield. Instead, we helped our young daughters roll snow across…

Falling Cow

At the east entrance of The Canyon, there’s a yellow and black pictorial road sign warning motorists to beware of rockslides in the canyon. If you slow down and look carefully, among the rocks is a falling cow. We drove through The Canyon on a Sunday morning. It was a bright blue day, and the…

The Canyon

I refused to drive The Canyon before we moved to Cook Peak. Its 20 miles of windy road churned my stomach, especially late at night. The road is narrow. People drive too fast. They cut corners, tailgate, pass unsafely, and flash their high beams and middle finger. My worst fear, crashing head-on and plunging hundreds…

The Rooster Box

I stuffed him into a filthy pillowcase and drove to a lonely stretch of desert highway. With one hand on the wheel and an eye on the rear-view mirror, I hurled the demon out the window. He bounced hard and tumbled through Sagebrush until he slammed into a Joshua Tree. “You are out of my…

Free Horse

  The Cook Peak Review, June 2009 – Edited February 2018 In the last issue of The Cook Peak Review, Elizabeth described her personal experience with the death of her free horse, Silverado. Shortly after publication, a generous reader gave her another free horse, an Arabian mare named Amber to join Tulsa, our free gelding….

Afraid of the Dark

I slept alone in my room as a child, hidden beneath the covers with a hole small enough to breathe. I wasn’t afraid of darkness; I felt terrified of the dangers that accompanied darkness, the monsters, the intruders, and lightning on stormy nights. Hidden beneath the covers, I felt safe in my cocoon. Boarding school helped…

Nobody

After the Erskine Creek Fire of 2016, the feral cat population dwindled to one; a cat called Nobody. Nobody had belonged to the big white house on the hill above Cook Peak, one of four in a row, one of 257 homes destroyed by fire. The owners never returned to rebuild or look for their cat….

Welcome to Cook Peak

The English name their houses. I’ve always admired their tradition, mostly because I grew up in Pakistan where hill station bungalows were named Robin House, Hillside Manor, and Rose Cottage. It’s familiar to me. When we purchased our home in the Kern River Valley, located on Cook Peak Road at the base of Cook Peak…