Two days ago, the direction of the wind changed. The leaves are crispy on their branches, but suddenly it's not from heat. I smell October in the trees. Just like that - it's fall here - almost, almost. Summer was easy on us relative to last summer but relative also to most summers I remember. Only once did the thermometer register above 110* - and that's a luxury in these parts. This summer alone we received 15" of rain, at least. It took our driveway and, this weekend, some of our baby chickens. We found them in a pile, caught in one last, futile motion - a distressing discovery on an early Sunday morning. We suspect heart attacks from thunder.
Nothing out here is served up in moderation - not the weather, not the insects, not the animal mortality, not even the excessive beauty that is always in everything if you stop for one full second to see it. For example, I caught a dewy eastern sunrise yesterday morning that is pointless to describe.
Lately, work is catching up to me. And by work I mean my "day job," as in the stuff that helps pay for sun rises and piles of chickens and bouncing goats. In fact, today I had to pull a suit from the closet for one of those meetings this morning - the type that makes me sleepless the night before and causes my steady hands to shake. I used to take this stuff in stride as being all part of the gig, but more frequently - and after a year of extremely stress-free work - I'm having trouble finding my footing. My suit was, literally, dusty. I cleaned it off, slipped it on, then quickly changed into something less rigid. I'm not that person anymore. The clothes just don't fit - in more ways than one.
It's important I think, when talking about work life vs. life life to mention my gratefulness for work - especially the sort that is mostly autonomous and normally not too stressful. For now, I can send an email from the porch, feed the chickens, and join a conference call at the kitchen table No complaints here about that. But the intent and purpose are gone. It's mechanical at this point. Unfortunately, chasing off roosters and watching the sun rise don't pay the bills.
In these pictures, off in the distance, are treetops and hills from the property behind us - a 105 acre ranch that's been dormant for no telling how long. No one around here remembers it ever being used. The 70 acre forest was never cleared. It's just a long expanse of native prairie and hardwood. And it's for sale. The owners are willing to sell parcels - not small chunks - but small enough I've been sitting on the porch staring like a hungry wolf in front of raw steak. Smacking my lips, rubbing my palms together, salivating. For me, the thought of more land triggers a response so strong it proves psychological theory better than Pavlov's dog. What we could do with more land - I could list off on all ten fingers - none of which is feasible within the near future. The land itself isn't feasible without another few decades of donning dusty suits and waking up early for sweaty-palmed work meetings and sleepless-anxiety-filled nights. So, what's it all worth? When is enough enough?
Don't get the wrong idea here, it's mostly a pipe dream but realistic enough to be just within a very uncomfortable reach. Since we've moved here, I've become fiercely protective of things like views. We're in this for long haul living. But it's asking too much to preserve this view forever. Maybe it's asking too much to hope that someday the day job means dirt-digging and chicken tending and fence repair. Maybe not. It's worth a consideration, at least, no matter how fleeting. So lately, chances are good you can find me squinting out towards the east. For now I'm just thinking about what could be growing on those hills with the right stewardship and vision. I'm thinking about ways to replace that suit without sacrificing security.
It's not exactly taking this life in my own two hands, but it's a start.