Thinking

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Misty

A lovely Portland morning, me and Juni B. up and roaming, every sound hushed under the weight of the mist. Every scent heightened, the new leaves, the dry flaxen grass, the unfortunate rabbit killed under the tree of the top photo, forefoot and tail and fluff in the underbrush and Juniper whimpering to please investigate. Never have I felt more observed by the animals, seen and unseen, wing beats and calls, rustles and thumps. Crows, jays, towhees, and coyote, perhaps?

Today is a big day for us. After thirteen years to to-ing and fro-ing in a Mini Cooper, from one side of the country to the other, we are reuniting with our first love. A Subaru. The toll of a low clearance vehicle, scrape, scrape, scrape, and what now seems like an impossibly small space having finally, oddly, gotten to us. Our 50’s era garage is just wide enough and plenty long for what, in comparison, will be akin to driving a school bus.

Like most of what I have left behind in this life, I will not miss it. We had our good times and our stellar fuel economy (goodbye 42 MPG on the highway!) and fun zips around winding bending roads, but it’s time to move forward. It’s time for adventures on bumpy back roads without worry (or at least far less) of getting stuck. It’s time for car camping with our favorite canine, lying flat as a pancake in the back. It’s time for having more than one human passenger, save that of a child. It’s time for car loads of plants and other miscellany that need not be carefully balanced and protruding, clown-like, out the front windows of the car. Oh boy, oh boy, it is time.

Let’s go!

 

Well, mostly earlier today, save these two, which were taken last week, in the same good company, however. A new friend, Jennifer, and I, out walking. Discussing that word, friend, how often it is tricky and not quite enough, sometimes too much.

In between oohing and aahing over the scent of pine and how damn lucky we are to live in THIS place, red stone and dust, spotted towhees, flowers, and giant gorgeous mountains peering over our shoulders, we shared the shorthand of memories, distillations of of selves more than forty years in the making. How did I come to be me in this instant?

Though we did not pose the question nearly as succinctly as that, it is a good one. How did I? I married young and made it last. The hubster is my very best friend. I knew when I was eight years old that I didn’t want children, and thank goodness because my body, strong and sometimes wicked dictator that it is, occasionally renders me helpless and tired and utterly and completely infertile. My wit is sharp, save when dulled by the hammer and illogic of depression. And siblings? Three, one of whom I no longer speak to. No, it is not sad. People always say that, but it’s not. One doesn’t encourage others to remain in abusive relationships.

Though I love religious iconography and people who hide such treasures for me to find (squee!), I am not religious. Deeply spiritual, yes. In love with humanity, yes. Willing to do good, to give, to share, to help, yes, yes, YES!!

And what else, in this getting to know me phase? I love to walk and hike and bike, mostly in that order. I am an excellent baker and cook. A decent decorator. I love flowers and art and cerebral fil-ums. I devour good books and toss the rest aside. I cuss. I am a speed demon when entering the highway, first gear loud and thrumming, then go granny goose and take in the scenery. Was that a bird of prey I just saw? Let’s smell, touch, taste that. Let’s travel there. Turn right now, I wanna see where this goes. Do you hear that? Isn’t it amazing? Oh my goodness, aren’t we sooo lucky? We are alive now in THIS place!!

All Love

When I am thirsty, I gulp down water. I do not pause for breath, no matter the size of the glass. No matter if it dribbles down my chin and leaves me gasping for air. Satisfaction, happy at the sweet taste. Water. At first I thought this was a metaphor for my life – me lustily taking it all in, senses on high alert, music, trees, words, mountains, wildness overflowing from my lips. Sometimes, yes.

But I am also the sipper. I take a single drop, and it spreads like sunrise, small then big, big, bigger. I stop and crouch, examine the leaf, the rock, the blade of grass. I pick up the feather and watch it fall, a whole minute if I am lucky and the wind is right. And it is beautiful. The gulping and the savoring. They are the same, really, all love.

Puzzle Time

Working a puzzle of the great city of Philadelphia two nights ago. It’s that time of year! Though we are delinquents who failed to keep in touch, the happy memory of puzzling with our Portland friends, Dan and Kristin, is as bright and clear as yesterday: the four of us huddled over one or the other of our dining room tables, sipping something boozy, the hi-fi whirring and punctuated by the sound of laughter and voices chatting merrily about every little thing.

It has been a wonderful few days, my melancholy about the state of the world tamped by the beauty of those nearest to me. I enjoyed a long stretch in the kitchen, making soup and my annual batch of fudge, roasting vegetables, and baking cookies for neighbors and my first ever exchange. The swap was at my friend Kelly’s, and it was a grand time, a room full of kind and generous women of all ages, each of us merry in our own way, feasting on sweet and savory treats, and glad to be together.

I have been helping clean out my neighbor’s house over the past few months, eighty plus years of trinkets, treasures, and trash. Though everyone laughs with incredulity when I say it, I rather enjoy it, the searching, the organizing, the discovering, and find myriad ways, both intentional and unexpected, to make it fun. It mostly involves me being silly and laughing loudly at the great company of my dear friend Peggy, one of the finest and most delightful women I have ever had the pleasure to know. We stumble upon treasures that remind us of our childhoods, our mothers, grandmothers, and friends. We find the weird, the wacky, the sad. It is all good.

And the weather! Eeek. Dare I say how nice it has been here? Crisp and bracing, with many sunny sky days and starry nights (I think we saw the space station whizzing above last night!), a little rain here, a little rain there, and overall quite nice. My Portland friends have been inundated with a flood of rain, all safe and dry last I heard. My Colorado friends snow came and quickly went, as it tends to do. Hoping our other weather shoe doesn’t drop with a menace but a wee tremble instead, a slow hush of giant flakes. I wouldn’t mind that at all.

 

We got up early Sunday morning, before the sun, but not because we were pressed for time. Despite walking for more than four hours on Saturday, and going to sleep late, we’d had enough rest. A luxury. To be away from the million and one needful things that mire us at home to a million and one possibilities, what to do next? As is often the case, we chose art and nature.

This is Griffis Sculpture Park, more than 250 sculptures tucked away on 450 acres of parkland. It is art, in large part, that has to be earned, via curving backroads, pathways snarled with tree roots and rocks and twigs, up grassy slopes and under tree branches, a glimpse across a pond or a massive field of goldenrod, positively alive and singing with bees, crickets, cicadas, too.

It was a fine end to the weekend, and it got me thinking, about luxury and choices and how we arrive where we are. Our airbnb was beautifully utilitarian, with chipped edges, cracked tops, and strategically placed objects hiding all the worn out places. And yet, it was perfect and ever so lovely, not only for the inventiveness of our host’s decorating choices, we need not toss the imperfect aside, but for the fact that every comfort was considered. A fan next to the bed, nicely scented toiletries, a fantastic cast iron frying pan, a sweet kettle, boxes of tea, tins of coffee, a fine coffee pot, beautiful pottery from which to sip. Then there was the thoughtfully curated collection of books and art (many painted by our host), ever so much lining the walls. We don’t need new and shiny to feel luxury. We need love and care.

When we lived in Portland and had owned our Subaru wagon for more than a decade, friends kept asking us when we were going to replace it. It’s so old! Scratched! Dinged! But, we argued, it was a great color, long paid for, ran beautifully, and got great gas mileage. And, without a car payment, we had more money to spend on what matters to us, like travel.

The hubster and I are often gently reprimanded or told “it must be nice” to travel so frequently, and, to be quite honest, it really, really is. That being said, we’ve earned it! We save like the dickens and forgo a lot of expenses that many people deem necessary. We don’t have cable (but do have Netflix); own one car; don’t get manicures, pedicures, or color our hair (never have, and it’s getting very grey up there!); have a pay for what we use phone plan; don’t eat out a lot; don’t drink a lot (but it’s still plenty); and the biggest of all, chose not to have children. None of this feels burdensome or sacrificial, either. It feels right and good and perfect, actually. But if you start tallying expenses, say just for cable, even a cheap plan can run about $600 a year. That’s two weekends of travel for us, one if were splurging. It adds up!

Maybe it’s the fact that though I grew up poor, I rarely felt it. I never had a lot, but I always had enough. I kept clean (a bath every three days, whether I needed it or not!), had dolls and stuffed animals and a near-infinite collection of library books to keep me company, a tidy room, great food, a park to play in, and friends nearby. Yet there were people in my same position and even some who were better off who were perennially sullen and angry characters, cheated by their lot. They were constantly embarrassed, by their parents, their cars, the houses they lived in, their clothes, their shoes, all they did not possess. It was a terrible poverty of mind.

It never made sense to me, and it still doesn’t because I am of the mind that I’ve got the whole world, and if I don’t embrace it, I will never have more.

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