I hope this finds you well and happy.
Madam The Dog and I have just come back from a week in Southern Oregon. Our elder "had a turn" as the old folks used to say, and required my presence. The drive from Portland to Ashland, Oregon near the California boarder is beautiful any time of year, but especially in spring. The I5 takes you along the Willamette Valley, past heritage farmlands, and along rivers glittering with salmon, and through high forest passes, their peaks still topped with snow. Oregon has been careful to keep most of this famous trek free from developers and it's a joy to travel. It takes about 5 hours by car but dog and I take longer, as dog and I like rest stops. I talk to the folks and troll for stories, while she reads her p-mail and trades sniffs with other dogs. We each get a bite of something and then we're on our way. Dog rests in the back when she isn't looking out the window. I listen to classical music (which keeps my speed down and compliments the landscape) or I enjoy a book on tape. Dog prefers classic rock and NPR.
As we drove along the valley, and headed toward the pass, the total effect on the eye was green below, studded with hundreds of golden daffodils. A robin's egg sky formed a blue vault above us and it was dotted with white fluffy clouds that mimicked the sheep in the fields. The lambs were out in the warm, frisking along behind their mothers. Dog watched them, from the other side of the rest stop fences with a kindly and benevolent eye as if to say, "Well, you lot need herding, that's clear, and I could get you all in order if I wanted to but I'm busy guarding this one."
All along the way, Chanticleer pear trees bloomed (a better word might be "proclaimed") and their delicate white flowers contrasted with the Thundercloud Purple Leaf Plum trees (don't you love those names?) which were resplendent in a soft, oriental shade of pink. The sight of either one on this day, in this place and time, would cause a poet to drop her pen and blither helplessly. The bees were everywhere, spoiled for choice.
We had a fine spring snow up at our place just before I left. It skipped the valley, settling gently here in the mountains, giving our brick fronted home that gingerbread house look we love and giving dog one last cold, wet, glorious fling. She dug and jumped and ran in the stuff, always looking for more, till she was grinning and dripping and had to come inside. It's funny, really, because she came to us from a shelter in New Mexico. We think she once lived on a ranch. She speaks a bit of Spanish, is comfortable around cattle and horses, and had never stepped on tile or climbed stairs in her life before she came to us. She adores riding around in trucks or cars, and she knows and loves tamales. I know nothing about her background, really, except that she was clearly loved, but I doubt she'd ever seen snow before she arrived in Oregon. But she was made to be a mountain dog - it just took a while for her to get here.
Between our beloved elder's car accident and her struggle with COPD and some other stresses and strains that life has sent us, it's been a rough six months. But we're just fine, considering. We're looking forward to spring and the signs of it abound; the frogs are back and the swallows are due any day now. The does visit the lower meadow every morning, looking for new grass, bringing their yearlings with them. Meanwhile, I'm looking through the couch cushions for pennies to see if we can send my loved one out to his best friend's wedding in the Galapagos Islands. I'll be staying here to guard the home front. I can't tell you exactly how many Wife Points that gives me, but, eventually, I intend to cash these in.
I'm not working as much as I like, being needed elsewhere, but I feel rather less of a poser when so many others are also forced to stand idle. My family can handle a single salary for now, but it's not my cup of tea. I am not well suited to a life of decorative indolence, nor is any woman I know. So, I volunteer as much as I can, and make what living I can consulting in my field until my elder no longer needs me.
I'm in the same boat with many of you, caring for a loved one and wondering what this economy will bring. Unlike many, though, I have health care through my husband's work. I am grateful for that every day and look forward to the time when every single person in this country has the blessing and freedom of guaranteed health care as is their right.
The Discworld convention in Arizona last September was great fun. I loved seeing old friends and I always enjoy the American Southwest. I reveled in early morning visits to various desert botanical gardens, places which always remind me of my old backyard in California, with their rich smelling sages, flowering cacti and herbs, their ancient lizards and their jewel-like hummingbirds. I adored the dramatic thunder storms that came and went, and the hot, dry air that followed. We found that real family Mexican restaurant we were looking for, the one with the sweet-faced abuela cooking up her magic in the back, which made us very happy.
The life that abounds just now inspires me in various ways. For one thing, I'm itching to grab a spade and start digging in my own bit of earth but it's best to wait until the March frosts are over. Dog and I take a lot of walks with friends, and I'm learning more about the flowers and trees hereabouts. I write every day. Not well, mind you, but most earnestly. Perhaps the joy and the flow will come again someday. I live in hope.
I enjoy my volunteer work and may take up some more of a different type this summer. I hope to find a place to do some riding, soon, and I'd like to learn how to kayak, if the couch pennies allow.
Welcome, welcome Spring.
May you be well,