Monday, May 28, 2007

existential weekend

So there we were. Eliott Creek B&B, my Father-out-law's cabin, for a nice quiet weekend. We got in Friday afternoon. Kurt wanders over to his father's place for coffee, as usual, and they go for a walk, as usual, and my husband returns with a funny look on his face, says, "I want to talk you into something." Pause. "Go for a walk with me." He seems serious. I think, okay. I'll go for a walk. I'm not that lazy that he has to talk me into it. "Okay. A walk sounds great," I say. He still seems serious. He's kind of shifting from one foot to the other. "What?" I say. "What's going on?" He crooks his finger and says, "Let's go look at the 10 acres Dad has for sale." He pauses. "I told him we want it."

So began the relaxing weekend. This could be a long post, because I'm going to take you for a walk through the property and try to record some of the emotional upheaval that is still going on in my psyche.

The road in. Literally and figuratively. The road was just dynamited into submission after a 30 year nap.

10+ acres, 750 feet of which are pristine, year-round, swimmable creek frontage. The majority of the lot is hillside, forest--logged probably sometime in the fifties or sixties. Well forested again. Beautiful. Lush. The septic is installed and approved, the meadow, below, is huge.... at least 3 acres of level, buildable land. Off grid. Untouched. The road ends at this piece. Beyond is only rock face and Forest Service land. A rare private subdivision in the middle of all Federal land. Below is a view of the meadow from entrance.

This shows the first of three drops in water elevation on the property. There are three small waterfalls with enough drop to run a hydraulic generator year 'round. The water is clean. Very little human occupation upstream. Stunning.

A longshot up the creek from the back of the property. I wish you could see this. It goes on and on back along the creek.

A view of the creek at the deep green far end of the place. The meadow is open and sunny with a decent growing season and plenty of room for a nice garden (picture a 12 foot fence), but the far end is more dense. The property is situated in the middle of an old copper mining community that died years ago (JoBar), but has supported a small (10 people or less) alternative community for the past 40 or so years. My husband's father the main landowner.

At the far end is this gorgeous rock face. Probably 200 feet high. Many ferns, trillium, other delicate posies.

Rock face close up. From the end of the property this is pretty much it. Rock. You can hike way up and over it (but why? I ask. Why?) and a mile or so down the road is a remote campground, but nobody comes over the rocks. Nobody.

Amenities. Hers.

I don't know if you can see this, but the ridges (long, knee-high piles of river rock) are tailings from the hydraulic mining activity in the early 1800's by Chinese immigrants who were generally treated badly and run off a cliff when we were done with them, or so the saying goes. A few years ago, Jacksonville began having a Chinese New Year celebration and I thought it odd.... At any rate, there are tailings throughout the property.

Shed. His. We would likely build next to the hillside, in the shade. That way, it would be cooler in the summer. It couldn't get any colder in the winter. Many of the homes (a loose description) in the area are decorated with found items turned to flower pots. At this point, it seems a sin to decorate this sanctuary. A quiet home, a garage for the equipment, a shed for the well, some chairs and a table down by the water, to bring up when the rains come. The piece is well above any recent high-water mark. The flood of 97 didn't get it.

Challenged with my fabulous life, I hardly know what to make of it. I've lived off the grid before, and would do it differently if I am (since I am) confronted with the opportunity: reliable heat, comfort, water, light, refrigeration. I do not want to live poorly. But how often does somebody say, here: have another life. Again.

For both of us, even to consider this is a tremendous step back in time. We both lived here once upon a time. Kurt's father is here. My history is here. Distant, but the bones still rattle in the closet. The question is whether it can be both a step backward and a step forward -- if the city life will take a backseat, if it will live in well-behaved memory or remind me of all I should miss.

But I spent the weekend, and the morning, and likely the next month, trying like hell to figure out who I am. This is not the quest of a 50-something. I should be over all that. Am I that little hippie chick who canned peaches and hauled water up a hill, all tan and pregnant? Who sat naked at the edge of Yale Creek unafraid of my body? Or, am I the person I've sold to employers, a capable, competent managerial slave? Am I a civilized modern woman who can negotiate a big city with relative ease and fool the natives? Am I a writer? A biker? A wife? A mother? A junkie? A drunk?

Shit. All of the people I have been are clamoring for attention in the face of the chance of monumental change. I can't figure out if I have been lulled into the belief that a job and health insurance are critical or whether I would regret leaving it all behind. Do I think we can throw it all up in the air and live on love? I used to. I used to move freely through my life with little overhead save a bag of dirty laundry, a sleeping bag and a dog. Now, it is significantly heavier to be me. So much more to carry.

But wouldn't that leather furniture looks spectacular in a cabin?

I think these decisions are for the young and unsuspecting, the dreamers and optimists. I have been to the circus. I know how the magic tricks work. I know who lives in the outback nowadays. I know too much and too little.

But I sit beside that creek and think: I used to be this.


msb said...

And somewhere you still are. What you have become is all based in that beautiful land. thanks for sharing bluesky.

Anonymous said...

It can never be what it was, no matter how same the setting. It's en vogue, especially nowadays, for kids our age to uproot and replant and live on the life's too short cutting edge of risk and dream. I say, hallelujah. "Stunning" hardly breathes on it.

asha said...

Nice place. So green.

asia said...

That is such a beautiful place. where is it? southern oregon i am guessing. i feel sort of breathless about your potential for change.

someone said...

Yes. Just over the California line. Beautiful on a beautiful day.