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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Foot loose and fancy free

© Another Day in the Country

The last time that I flew to California, I heard a guy talking to his seat mates on the plane.

“All I do is travel,” he said. “I sold my home, put a few things in storage, and now I live out of this carry-on bag. It’s cheaper to travel than maintain a house.”

I was curious. Then I was envious. And then, I got realistic. I couldn’t quite imagine not having a home base, someplace to return to after adventuring.

Where would you rest? Where would you find your favorite books, cook your favorite meals, hang your comfy old clothes, have that “oh, it’s good to be home” feeling?

I got home from my Idaho odyssey last Tuesday and heaved a sigh of relief. I made it!

While my guest accommodations had been sumptuous and the meals scrumptious, it was good to be home.

I’d had lots of good conversations until I was pretty much talked out. I’d seen beautiful scenery, breathtaking fall color, and taken a zillion photographs. 

We’d listened to music until we’d had our fill and visited art galleries where I got ideas that my kids could do when I got home and resumed art classes. I’d had five days of wonder, two days of travel, and now I was ready to be home.

Home where I can smell the four-o’clocks on the porch as I approach the door.

Home where the lights are all on, welcoming me, and I can smell the candles my daughter gave me when I walk in — even if they haven’t been burning.

Home in my own bathroom with a high enough toilet and my clutter on the counter.

It’s home with a message on my answering machine, “Where are you?” and home where I hear a train in the night and roosters crow in the morning. 

There was a time when I imagined having a house in Ramona and how restful, how rejuvenating it would be.

And then we got the house, and for years this was my favorite place to come. It was my perfect delight to lie on a bouncy double bed in front of open windows — no air conditioning but with a breeze blowing through — and listen to the birds sing. 

We’d invite our relatives over for breakfast or lunch and play pitch with Uncle Hank and Aunt Gertie at night.

We’d fix something around our little cottage, mow the lawn, plant perennials, buy another odd piece of furniture, and refurbish some chairs. 

It was a great respite. The country stillness was intoxicating. I was a thousand miles away from any work pressure or any bills to pay. I had no schedule to meet and no demands on my time. Maybe that’s how the man felt who lived out of his carry-on bag. 

But what about putting down roots? What about making a living? What about contributing to a community or being part of a friendship circle? What would it be like to always be visiting? Wouldn’t you miss that feeling of belonging?

After 20 years of calling it home, there are still things I really like about Ramona, things I’m grateful for, like how beautiful and quiet it can be, how simple most things are.

But I miss being closer to family and friends. I miss jazz festivals and music in the park, bike trails and good restaurants, book clubs and long conversations.

My friends in Sun Valley live in a condo on a golf course, tall windows with a spectacular view of ski slopes. They are always biking trails, walking trails with friends they’ve made, going to interesting lectures at the library, and eating at charming restaurants — a different one within walking distance every day or two.

There’s an exercise gym just a few blocks away, a theater and grocery stores — a community perfectly suited to them. There’s none of this in Ramona.

“We are about to go to Mexico,” they say as I’m packing my little suitcase. “We thought one of our kids would come, but they aren’t. Are you interested? You could come. It’s always fun to travel with you.”

“Thanks,” I said, “but I need to get home.” 

Home where my sister is waiting to pick me up. Home where a new kitten is recuperating and an old one is furious. Home where ducks are begging to be let out to swim.

They were a mess, those ducks, when I got — black dirty faces, especially the white ducks. They’d been playing in their water container, making mud pies and mud puddles in their pen. As fast as water was put in, it was out.

It’s good to be home. The ducks missed me.

I’m home! The UPS guy just honked. I have a package — a book I’d heard about and actually ordered for my grandson. It’s called “Build the Life you Want,” by Arthur Brooks and Oprah Winfrey.

I decided to read that book before sending it on to California.

Dagfinnr is a pretty deep thinker and, like most teenagers, isn’t always happy, but I don’t want to overwhelm him. Then again, he’s figuring things out, and maybe this book will help.

As I read, turning page after page, I had to smile. I marveled and then laughed out loud.

“Build the life you want,” the book said, and I realized I pretty much had — right here in Ramona, spending another day in the country.

Last modified Nov. 2, 2023

 

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