A long time ago, I was a student at Chico State University, in Northern California. One of my friends was Ernie Pieper. His home was near the town of Willows, on the west side of the Sacramento Valley, and on occasion I visited him there, where I met his parents, whom I liked. (I also liked Ernie's sister, whom I dated a couple of times.)
Both are still around, and in the meantime, Ernie married Norma and the two have a son, Connor, all of whom I've managed to see about once a year for perhaps the last decade. The past several years I've stopped at Ernie's after riding the Chico Wildflower Century bike ride, at the end of each April.
With my own parents gone, I think I've felt a stronger relationship than before with the elder Piepers. When I visited I visited Ernie in the spring, though, I wasn't able to spend much time with his parents, even though I realized Mr. Pieper wanted to continue the conversation.
I made another stop at Ernie's home - built by his grandparents at the turn of the 20th Century - on my way back from Chico; I made sure to spend some more time with his parents. I gave them what I could for this holiday season, and I'd like to think it is the best gift I can make to anyone, the gift of my time.
While I made a few photographs of Mrs. Pieper, Conner came into the room; the two of them proved to be extremely relaxed in front of the camera.
Click on the photographs for full-size images.