It’s an early morning in mid-May and I’m sitting at the dining room table eating my oatmeal, figs, and walnuts and sipping my morning cup of mocha coffee. A movement catches the corner of my eye and I look out the glass doors to the deck toward some chairs, a small table, and a bird bath filled to the brim from a week or more of steady rain. A Rufous-Sided Towhee is in the bird bath, flickering his feathers, splashing the water. He’s a beauty with his dark neck and head, white breast, and rust-colored sides dotted with white. He dips and flicks water off his wings and tail, dips and flicks the water in a rain dance on the surface of the bird bath. In less than a minute, he jumps onto the deck railing. But he doesn’t fly away, no, he jumps back into the bird bath for a repeat performance. When he’s finished, he jumps onto the deck railing again. Then, back into the bird bath. Finally, he hops to the railing, swipes his beak, first one side, then the other, on the railing, and flies off into the warm spring air. I love my comfortable, older home (built in 1978) on a couple acres that I took over after the death of my husband Ernie. My kids told me they had a bet going after their dad passed away that I wouldn’t last 18 months on this property. Well, I fooled them. And I fooled myself. Because I’ve been here, mostly alone, almost six years now. Even though I’m a city girl from way back, living and loving on this couple of acres in southwest Washington for 23 years has turned me into an earth muffin for sure. At the same time, it seems my kids may finally be winning their bet. The struggle is this: last summer, I retired sort of on the early side, and since that time, I’ve traveled a bit to visit fam and friends and been able to devote myself to my writing. I’ve converted my hardback novel, The Protest, to a digital format, I’m working on some short stories and poetry, recently begun this blog, and eventually, I’ll launch my writings into the wild world. I’m loving the life I’ve created. There have been some bumps in these six years, to be sure (the bumps will, no doubt, work their way into stories in some form or another, as they are apt do), but all in all, it’s a pretty idyllic existence…except as a newly retired Baby Boomer, on a very tight budget, taking care of a couple of acres by myself, I’ve found that my hands don’t just bounce back after a day of weeding any more, and my patience for the moles and dandelions hasn’t just worn thin, it’s turned into a maddening obsession.
And then there’s the mountain…so arresting in its beauty I gaze at it, silent, and am reminded of how fortunate I am to live here in its presence.
This is the struggle…to leave or not to leave. To claim my life, directing it where I want it to go, or to live passively, growing old and remaining subservient to the yard and the flower beds and the birds and mountain? It has been a real struggle over the past few months, especially as I try to imagine taking care of myself financially in the future. Okay, I’ve made a decision. My house is newly listed with a realtor, and I accept it. Taking command of my life. Embracing the change. Forward!