Denes McIntosh: Fond remembrance of Grass Valley |

Denes McIntosh: Fond remembrance of Grass Valley

I am not someone accustomed to living in the past. It’s good at times to reflect on the past, but too much reflection may prove to be the cement that holds one there, stuck (as it were) in the comfort of the known, rather than embracing the challenge of the unknown.

Of course it is not incumbent on anyone to seek new challenges; many are challenged enough just getting through life as they know it. That has been the case for me during periods of my own life, but as I grow older I seem to become more adept at “getting through.” Whether that be because of accumulated wisdom, strength, determination, fortuitous circumstances, the love of others, or divine guidance … I really don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve come to see my connection to life more clearly than I once was able to, and I appreciate the possibilities of happiness more than I might have in the past.

I’ve come to truly understand that life is right now.

It is only right now.

It is what we have.

I moved to Grass Valley about four years ago. Very soon after my relocation I was faced with two very sudden and traumatic occurrences in my life. After having spent my first year writing and working through my grief at home, and not knowing anyone in the community, I slowly began to get out into the world again, to see and receive the smiles on the faces of the people living in this new town. It was a re-emergence for me, and a gradual healing from my personal grief and isolation. It enabled me to begin giving those valuable smiles I’d been receiving back to others who were in need of that connection, perhaps even more-so than I had been myself.

I was soon given the opportunity to sing and play my songs at the wine tasting rooms on Mill Street, as well as some other venues around town. Before long I restricted my playing to Lucchesi, and Smith’s (later to become Cork49) because I loved the owners and the clientele. It was important to me to be around familiar faces, develop relationships, and have a means of giving to others what I had within myself to offer. It is part of what makes me complete. I believe it is part of what makes anyone complete.

During my time downtown I did my best to give my best, but I received what was offered to me as well. And that was of great significance to me, more so than anyone could know. So many good people welcomed me, embraced me, and had an impact on my life and happiness. For that, for them, I will be eternally grateful. Grass Valley is a remarkable community. It was a healing ground for me when I was most in need of such a place.

I have recently moved out of the country, down to Todos Santos in Baja, Mexico. Leaving Grass Valley was one of the most difficult decisions I’d ever made. This is a new challenge for me. I was comfortable where I was. I intended for it to be my last “hometown.” But life tends to bring changes when we’re paying attention, and even when we’re not. I embrace the challenge of starting over. Looking back at those few short years in Grass Valley propels me forward with confidence and an overwhelming appreciation for life, filled with gratitude. I continue to write, and play my songs, although now in a foreign land.

Come to think of it, Grass Valley was its own kind of foreign land for me. And I’m glad I landed there for a brief moment in time.

My thanks, and my love, to all who touched my heart and stirred my soul, who brought me gradually back to life, and who strengthened me along the way. You know who you are. I think of you often.

Denes McIntosh still maintains a home in Grass Valley, although he is currently in Mexico. He can be reached at

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