I was itching to get up
to the mountains, and when we got here, it was still morning. I
breathed in that brisk, clean mountain air and beamed. I feel
so free up here. So happy to the core.
I belong here.
We unloaded our
overnight bags into the cabin and took off with O and Freddy for a
long walk. We stopped by to chat with our neighbor, Jeff, who was
putting up holiday icicle lights on the eaves of his cabin, then
with another neighbor, Woody, down the way. They were as
genuinely happy to see us, as we were to see them.
We waved at passersby,
smiling, as we continued our walk in our neck of the woods, up and
down, along the perimeter of our broad peninsula. We stopped
to admire the sparkling lake and the fleecy clouds above it. Our
trotting dogs, smiling with their wagging tails, were as joyful as
we were to be out and about in nature.
Down the hill, we live
in the Los Angeles area in an upper middle-class bedroom community,
in the midst of an upwardly mobile, status-driven, consumerist
society. I say this without judgment. Los Angeles is what it is. I
am not complaining, grateful for the opportunities that it has
Different strokes for
different folks, yes?
Besides, my simple,
"less is more" lifestyle and preference is less
contributory to the recovery of our country's slumped economy.
Daily, we are being exhorted to spendspendspend; it would seem,
these days, that engaging in conspicuous consumerism is our
An absence from the
mountains for two weekends only underscores how different we
are. We don't fit in down there as well as we do up here. Our suburban
neighbors are good people, certainly nice enough, but are far more occupied with directing their energies toward
competing for money, status and position using what they wear, drive, live in (and who they marry) as recognizable symbols of their
success. We just don't connect.
I don't comfortably work
in the front yard there as I do here. Truth is still truth even if it makes
me sad. Once, a couple of boisterous neighborhood teens came up to
me as I was busily weeding in the front yard. Mistaking me for
a hired gardener, part of the brigade of immigrant gardeners that
swoops in to mow, edge, clip here, clip there, air blow and swoop
out in their pickup trucks, they asked with perceptible
condescension: "What do you get paid for doing work like
this?" They were thoroughly nonplused when I pointed to
our house, replying, "I live here."
I rarely take long walks
in the neighborhood there. Cement sidewalks, manicured lawns and
cookie-cutter gardens, and houses without welcoming front porches do not
inspire me. I've noticed how city folk avoid making eye
contact, and I've come to realize that people don't wave hello to each other
simply because they don't bother to see each other.
time in the mountains helps me to count its unique blessings.
Up here, our neighbors
-- and we -- wear comfortable clothes; this time of year, we're in baggy
fleece pants and even baggier sweatshirts, the more worn, the
softer, the better. You wouldn't know if we are executives,
professors, artists, or poets. Nobody knows how much money we make
(or do not make).
With such role-definitions erased and the rustic life-style eliminating the
need for social niceties (like shaving, makeup or hair done up), a true solidarity
is palpable in our neighborhood.
We connect. We
like each other for who we are as people. "Birds of a feather
flock together." I like being amongst this flock of
Do you have to go live in
mountain woods for a weekend to wear baggy, worn comfortable clothes
in public, wave and smile at your neighbors and passersby, and take
long walks? Probably not.
But it couldn't hurt.
"Life is a Gift."
P.S. If you would
like to share a portion of yourself with words, in response to
this journal entry, you may do it here.
only gift is a portion of thyself..."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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