Seasonal living and the sensual, sensate life.

Tag: #RoughBeauty

Late Bloomer

Late Bloomer

A reader recently called Rough Beauty—a fairy tale.  She was not being kind.  At first I laughed.  Anyone who knows me knows I am no princess; not once have I been a damsel in distress.  The course of my life has been a dirty mess, traversing […]

My Mind on Winter

My Mind on Winter

August in the mountains and I can feel summer begin to ebb.  At the prairie house, I‘d be staring down the barrel of at least two more months of way-too-hot-for-me weather, while nearly 4000 feet higher this morning’s temperature registered in the upper 40s.  Already […]

Just This One Day

Just This One Day

A month after Greg and I hauled our household 38.4 miles south and west, we are still settling in.  Our couches are stuck somewhere in California and we have been walking around boxes and paint cans for weeks. Our living room serves a staging ground for unpacking and sorting, and also as the dog’s other, bigger bedroom. It’s been a month of figuring out where things will go and non-stop organizing—Doing it right, I say, as I methodically label jars of rolled oats and granola, cornmeal, three kinds of sugar and six kinds of flour for the pantry.  We’ve ordered so much shelving and storage stuff, the Post Mistress in Rollinsville and UPS and Fed Ex drivers already know us by name.  For the first time, even our junk drawer is getting an organizer.

Hilda by Duane Byers

I’m not sure what has gotten in to me.  Although I aspire to be tidy, I am tragically messy by nature—a disaster in the kitchen by any chef’s reasonable standard and a harried house-cleaner.  Too often, I run out of time and leave a pile of clothes or stacks of books and papers in my wake.  My closets look like war-zones, the cupboards are a mess.  But something about owning a house has me plowing new fields.  In the past, whenever I walked into the squeaky clean house, I got the same goose-pimply, reverent feeling I once had in church.  If only, I’d think. 

Until now.

Happily saddled for the first time with many rooms of my own, a persistent voice urges me to invest.  So it’s been days on end of methodically folding and shelving, labeling and storing, dividing and stacking.  Perhaps this is what it means to put down roots.  Yesterday, Greg spent an hour planting three perennials, digging out rock and aspen roots, making room for one Snow-in-Summer I’ve carried with me since my days at the High Lake cabin.  Both of us understand, I think, that our circumstances have changed.  We’re courting a permanence neither of us has known. 

It’s a little daunting.  We alternately rejoice and freak out.

The view from the bedroom

Greg openly worries about his “to-do” list while I harbor a darker dread.  “The last time I was this happy in a house, the last time I felt—at last–I had enough room” I confessed to Greg last night, “it burned to the ground.”

And there it is.  My response to loving something deeply is the creeping fear I will lose it.  I had it with Elvis for a good part of his life, and Greg when we first met.  And now the house. I can’t believe our spectacular fortune to have found a nearly perfect home—one with land and huge decks, a woodstove and gas range, not to mention—wait for it—a walk-in closet–for a price that is passing as a more than reasonable given the Front Range’s out of control housing market. Don’t count on it too much, that niggling voice whispers, you could lose it.  My logic?  How could we possibly have found paradise? 

For most of my life, instability has been something like a second skin.  I’ve danced with it so long, I’m not sure how to give it up. 

And then I think about the laundry table and hanging rack I’ve set up next to the washer and dryer—and how absurdly happy I feel in not having to fold clothes on top of the dryer.  I think about my closet which has shelves for shoes and six separate bins for all my foldables and how everything in it has a place and a space.  How it’s been tidy now for nearly three weeks.

When I think of these things, I can finally have some patience for how long it seems to get settled—because as each day passes, I travel a little farther from the part of me that is certain I will lose it all. 

When I found out my beloved Husky Elvis had 3-6 months to live, I started a practice, after my morning meditation, of giving thanks for one more day with him.  In this way, we lived the last 18 months of his life together.  In marking each day with him, in being present, I was able at last to let go of the fear of losing him.  And when it was his time, I let him go with a full and complete heart.    

I’m not saying my current fear will pass overnight, but I am making a promise to myself as I type this to remember to have some gratitude for just this one day and for the place I’ve landed.  To see what’s here instead of what isn’t.  Today, after all, is all any of us really has.  

The Wait

The Wait

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –              When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush                                                    —Gerard Manley Hopkins Spring is doing its spring thing here in Colorado, which means warm days when I don skirts and show […]

Let Winter Nights Enlarge

Let Winter Nights Enlarge

Now winter nights enlarge  The number of their hours– –Thomas Campion Winter arrives, just in the nick of time.  I’ve been rushing and rushing pulling the threads of my daily to-do lists tight, holding my breath for what seems like months now as I stare […]

In Search of the White Whale

In Search of the White Whale

Peeper Pond by Greg Marquez

Home is my great white whale.  For as long as I can remember I’ve searched for it, turned the thought of it over in my mind and longed for the coordinating x and y of permanence and thriving for the perfect place.  Growing up, I wanted to be from somewhere, but my family, kicked around by my father’s Air Force career, tumbled from state to state.  Back then, home was neither a haven nor the place of a warm welcoming embrace; instead it was a battleground.  Still I clung to the idea of home the way I thought of love then—as something that would save me.

When I left my parents’ house, my living situation was too often disrupted by more instability, this time by a series of roommates who departed for greener pastures, coupled with a few who, like a fist full of landlords I’ve known, were on the verge of bat-shit crazy. One housing situation went up in flames—literally.  Another dissolved when the cops were called. I scrambled for decades trying to find my tiny patch and a place I could afford.  Finally, at forty, I signed a lease on a 500 square foot, wood-stove heated cabin on top of Overland Mountain with my dog, Elvis.  For ten years, I thought I’d found home.

Hummingbird by Greg Marquez

I outgrew the cabin the day the artist lover and I decided to take a step closer to each other and move in together.  Pickings on the mountain were slim post-100 year flood and so we packed our bags for the prairie, a move I’ve always seen as temporary.  While I made a a home with Greg, I still felt displaced.

“I feel like a plant that’s been plunked down in landscape that isn’t native to me” I tell Greg, “I can survive, but I won’t bloom.” Our edge of the prairie existence with its proximity to highways and aggressive commuters, streetlights and other people’s backyards has worn me thin.  I miss inky nights smeared with stars and the quiet days after the summer birds have departed.  I miss dirt beneath my feet and uneven, belly-soft ground.  I miss the pine forest dotting the landscape and bear and mountain lion passing through.  I miss the view of the mountains rising like a prayer, the sense that not every patch of land is inhabitable by humans.  I miss silence. I miss space.

Aspens by Greg Marquez

Placelessness is a grief bigger than any I’ve endured.  Living in the Overland cabin taught me that I did indeed have a place.  It doesn’t matter that I was born on the edge of the desert, the mountains are my native ground.  When I left the zip code I’d had on my permanent mailing address for nearly twenty years as I lived in and around Jamestown coming and going to grad school and a series of living situations, including at the High Lake cabin, I sobbed as I handed my key to the post office clerk in the same way I sobbed when my dog and constant companion of fifteen years, Elvis, died.  Leaving was a grief. 

Three years later, Greg and I have begun the happy, if somewhat fraught, task of locating a permanent address and of making our home in a place where we can thrive.   I long for four walls that belong to me, a patch of ground big enough for a home along with a writing shack that will house my desk, a wood stove, and a fainting couch along with my books.  Greg wants a studio/workshop and a patch of sun for the garden.  Of course I want to return to the mountains, something Greg has come round to, in part, because it means so much to me.  Trouble is, we live in Boulder County and even the little Overland Mountain cabin wouldn’t come cheap by most people’s standards.  Greg, ever the optimist, is hopeful we’ll find just the right thing while I fret over mortgage estimates and the return on our investment in taking on too much of a fixer-upper or something a bit smaller just at the time when I want to be settling in for the long haul.  There are so many variables—many of them having to do with the two too common denominators of American life:  time and money—that I am wringing my hands just when I should be rejoicing:  I’d never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be able to buy a house. 

The Way Back by Greg Marquez

And maybe that’s just it.  There’s a chunk of me still invested in the struggle—I’ve had so much of it– a stubborn piece that wants to believe I can’t have what I want.

For now I’ll simply have to take my cue from Greg, who is a dreamer, and dare to imagine the best of all possible worlds:  Six months from now, on June 5th, Greg and I will be happily celebrating the release of Rough Beauty  (pre-sales available on Amazon) in a (perfect) mountain home of our own.