Years ago, after two years of living in a small town in the Ozark mountains of Arkansas, I told myself that never again would I live in the country. Though my first house sat at the base of the Boston Mountains in Winslow, just south of Fayetteville, I clawed my way back to a concrete world. Eventually, I brought my small son home to Kansas City, where I could feel the burn of exhaust in my lungs and idle over an Americano in a different coffee shop every weekend if I chose.
Three decades later, I’ve landed in another rural setting, with clean sweet air and coyotes crossing the levee roads as I travel home many evenings. From time to time, I have to go to the city for medical appointments. I shake my head and remind myself how much I loved that life, before fleeing eastward to the quiet of the Delta. I take refuge in my little house on the banks of the San Joaquin. The traffic jams out here consist of the occasional flock of sheep or a raised drawbridge. As long as I time my commute to avoid the speeding tourists, I meet no greater challenge than the heavy trucks which take a detour through the backroads now and then.
But I admit that I feel smaller here. I stop to gaze at a hawk and wonder just what kind of wingspan it has. The bird seems huge. I pull the focus on my cell phone and find its piercing gaze. If I sat for a few more minutes, It would arch its body and beat the azure air with those powerful appendages. I drive away before its survival instincts compel that flight. I remind myself that no creature in a noisy vehicle disturbed my morning reflection. Why should I be any more privileged, even for the pleasure of watching that majestic being ride the wind.
In the quiet of evening, I reflect on what I miss about the life that I left. Friends, certainly; live music; art galleries. Book stores. Choices. I look at my photographs of this morning’s hawk, and scroll through a few pages of Pacific sunset snapshots taken on a roadside layby in the Headlands. I shake my head. I am not of this splendid, untamed world, it’s true; but I can stand a few more moments in its glory.
It’s the tenth day of the one-hundred and seventh month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
There are three images in this gallery. Sometimes they take a bit long to load.