The last time I wrote about the late Arvo Kannisto’s disputed cross of stones on an east Santa Rosa hillside, I thought it would be the last time ever.
Kannisto, a Christian and a World War II veteran, died in January 2016 at the age of 97. His death brought a few calls to preserve the cross of 3,000 or so whitewashed, Roundup-sprayed rocks for posterity.
But though the cross that Kannisto painstakingly built in the early 1980s has its admirers, there also are many in the adjacent St. Francis Acres and Skyhawk neighborhoods and beyond who resent it. And the landowner who for years granted permission to Kannisto and Kannisto alone to ascend the steep hillside to tend the cross has endured decades of trespassers trekking up either to roll away or restore stones.
Not long after Kannisto’s death, it seemed an unspoken agreement was reached to let the cross be, to let the elements gradually erode it.
But the cross now glows at night.
It appears that someone — quite likely several someones — has strung white lights all along the outline of the cross. They must be solar-powered.
The installation couldn’t have been easy: the cross is 127 feet high and 67 feet across.
“I’m sure Arvo is looking down from heaven, just smiling at it,” said Kannisto’s widow, Terri.
If he is, I’m pleased for him. But I was happier, and I think many others were, when it seemed that after decades, the time had come to allow both Kannisto and his cross to fade naturally into the landscape and the past.
TREASURES FOR SALE will be abundant Saturday and Sunday at the Holiday Open House at Luther Burbank Home & Gardens.
Especially special are the 100 freshly signed copies of “Santa Rosa: A Nineteenth Century Town” by Gaye LeBaron, Dee Blackman, Joann Mitchell and the late Harvey Hansen.
A timely gift as Santa Rosa approaches its sesquicentennial in 2018, the soft-cover books will sell at next weekend’s Holiday Open House for $34.95.
The sudden loss seven weeks ago of the historic Round Barn on Fountaingrove renders Luther Burbank’s landmark home and gardens ever more dear.
‘8381’ IS A MYSTERY no more.
Days ago I shared the thankfulness and puzzlement of Judy and Jack Clark, whose rented townhouse off Fountaingrove’s Thomas Lake Harris Drive narrowly avoided the flames of October.
The Clarks came home following evacuation to find on the kitchen counter a note written on a paper towel: “We did everything we could to help you. 8381.”
On Thanksgiving Day, Tom Leach of the Sebastopol Fire Department phoned the Clarks to tell them 8381 is the number of the fire engine that he and his fellow volunteers took to Santa Rosa early on Oct. 9.
The only firefighters on the Clarks’ block, Leach and Capt. Marc Simpson, Gina Piccinini, Joe Aiello and Sandi Satyadinata, attacked the flames until the hydrants went dry. Then they began driving down the hill to fetch another 500 gallons.
They did that again and again and again, for hours.
And they saved homes, including that of Jack and Judy Clark, who ponder now an appropriate expression of their gratitude to the crew of engine 8381.