Whoever said, “You can’t go back” was wrong. 3 years ago I left my home and my town on a sabbatical to celebrate my 40th birthday. While I knew adventure and romance awaited, it just killed me to have to give up my little cabin in the woods. It had been such a sanctuary for me for so many years. I knew I’d never get it back. Well guess who moved back into the little cabin in the woods? Here is something I wrote about it years ago that seems even more pertinent today.
Home. I love my home. While it is a sanctuary to me, the fact that there is no TV, no radio, no cell reception (other than the occasional text) drives most people away after a few hours. I have to start a fire in the wood burning stove for heat. There are no street lights. During winter storms trees come down and we have frequent power outages. When I look out my windows, I see trees, not neighbors. Living “out in the woods” makes some people nervous, but I find the close contact with nature to be a necessity. At home I can finally exhale.
In the summer, with the windows open, there is nothing but the sound of crickets. There is a resident Red Shoulder Hawk who is my daily alarm clock. Her cries of “Eeee, eeee, eeee!” rouse my sleepy head. I stretch and smile and say, “Good morning, Red Shoulder”. I can look up from any room in the house through the tall windows or skylights and see the redwood trees, those gentle giants, their still black silhouettes against the lightening sky. A deer crunches in the dry leaves outside the bedroom window. When I go outside onto the back porch in the evening I look up through the hole in the forest that my little cabin makes. Up, up, into outer space and wonder about it all.
In the winter I like nothing better than to sit in front of the wood burning stove in my rocking chair. Who says only old ladies get to enjoy this activity? I sit and rock. Sometimes I read, sometimes I sip a glass of Cabernet, sometimes I just sit and stare. I don’t think we do enough sitting and staring in today’s world. I always feel much better after a good staring session. Once I’ve had enough excitement, I retreat to bed, and snuggle in under a pile of blankets, hear the fire crackling in the wood burning stove, look up at the skylight and see the tops of the redwoods lash against the stormy night sky.
I love the winding, two lane rural road that takes me home. It seems that every winter the road washes out in a big storm and then we are down to one lane. Someone usually puts up a stop sign but after the first few days everyone forgets it is there and people take turns sailing on through and waving as they go by. After enough years go by, someone reminds the county and they send out a crew to fix it. Then another section promptly washes out. So we are mostly two lanes, but in places, one. The road curves through the forest, climbing up the gulch along the creek. You drive past an apple orchard that scents the air in the fall with the sweet ripe smell of apples. One of the neighbors has an annual apple cider making party wherein you bring containers to hold the fresh juice of the apples you, yourself have just picked off the tree, peeled, chopped, and pressed. Could anything taste better? Then you come to a large clearing where an industrious land owner has cleared the forest to raise a small herd of cattle. I see him, an old man now, out in the field with a bucket and a forked rod that he uses to pry the thistles out of his pasture because he refuses to use herbicides. I like him. Sometimes there is a woman who walks her roly poly yellow lab there when the cows are off in the trees. He has eyes for nothing but the dirty, old tennis ball she holds in her hand. Once in while a coyote or bobcat slinks across the road and melts into the underbrush. But my favorite thing to see is the flock of wild turkeys.
They moved in one day, a group of females. I wonder where a flock of turkeys comes from. I’m embarrassed, but will admit that sometimes I stick my head out the window and gobble at them. It makes me laugh with glee to see all 20 or so heads atop their long necks shoot up and stare with their beady eyes to see who the interloper might be. It’s so sweet to see the yellow and brown fluffy chicks in the spring, running this way and that and bumping into each other in their haste to escape the cars that are actually safely on the other side of the fence. In the fall the males splay their tail feathers and waggle their wattles vying for the attention of the ladies. They are a picture out of a children’s Thanksgiving story. Once when they were still new in the pasture, I was driving to work in the early dawn. Not having made time for coffee, I was bleary eyed and yawning but already deep in thought about what the day held. I wasn’t expecting them, but still, you’d think I would notice a flock of turkeys standing in the road. I didn’t. Until I was upon them and they scattered in a cloud of feathers and squawking alarm. One actually jumped over the hood of my car giving me the scare of my life. Now that they are regulars, I look for them every dawn and dusk and we exchange friendly gobbles. They seem to have forgiven me.
I often leave for work before the sun rises. There is a long flight of stairs that lead from my domicile down past the garages to the crunchy gravel driveway where my car is parked. I have noticed that my feet know how many stairs there are but my brain does not. On occasion, my mind tries to take over. It says, “Its pitch black out here and it is a long tumble to the bottom of those stairs. You can’t see a thing. You better go slowly and do your best to make out each stair before you take a step.” On these occasions I inevitably miss a step and nearly break my neck. However if I step trusting and blind, out into space, my feet deliver me securely to the bottom, time after time. I trust my feet. They seem to know where to take me.