Quote of the week:
“…People should be able to walk into their back yards and say, ‘that’s a cicada, that’s a tree frog, and that’s a bird.’ Then, when they hear a bird scream, ‘get out of my territory, get out of my territory,’ I want them to recognize the cadence and remember that Beethoven put it in a symphony…” Conservation Biologist Dan Jenzen quoted in “Where the Wild Things…Must Stay”, Penn Arts & Sciences Newsletter, 1997 (http://www.sas.upenn.edu/sasalum/newsltr/fall97/janzen.html)
RV’s are not too far of a step from tiny houses on wheels, other than the obvious obliviousness in regards to ‘green building’ concepts. At least, this is what I keep telling myself 🙂
Today marks mark two weeks that I’ve been living in the new space. Fourteen days to come face to face with some of my most egregious habits. Tiny living causes you to re-think everything, not just how you think about “stuff”. It informs how you shop, how you prepare your food, how you get ready for work, how you clean, and a bazillion other things. It feels daunting at times, liberating at others. It makes me swear a lot as I trip over something or have to rummage around to try to find what I know I just saw. And it pushes me outdoors.
I thought that I liked my private patio. I actually hated the missing dimension of visually expanding space and understand clearly now why my walks, bike rides and hikes made me feel so good. Distant empty vistas. While I fully understand that the current perception that all of this is mine is only temporary (the snowbirds have flown!), I am hoping that eight months a year of being tickled pink will make up for the four months of shoulder-to-shoulder living that will come once the season rolls back around.
I’ve had the pleasure of introducing my oldest grandson to lightnin’ bugs and trash dumpsters, along with the beginnings of reading the night sky, and the different calls of whippoorwill and owl. He knows that Bubbe keeps the toy box stored under the jackknife couch and that it will smash his fingers right quick. While the youngest is too young to grasp any of this, he still likes riding atop my shoulders on a night jaunt through the park and drooling into my hair while his brother and I yammer about rabbits, dumpsters, how important garbage men are, and how long our legs look in shadow form. You know, serious stuff.
Here are some highlights of the first two weeks, good and bad.
I recently was asked if I am homeless, due to my car still being full of stuff crammed in for moving. No, but I may have to move out and live in my tent so that my stuff has a home, if I cannot corral it into something more manageable. And I gave away a LOT of it. Just…not enough. Against my better judgement, I rented a storage unit for a while. For a brief period over the weekend, my ‘yard’ looked like a redneck junk sale might be occurring at any moment. I think my “Mossy Oak” storage containers gave it that initial flair.
I was doused in gasoline on my way to work by a malfunctioning gas pump and the verdict is still out on the lifespan reduction of my favorite high heels. For a few milliseconds in time I had a burbling of conflicting thoughts race through my headspace. Headline News: “Woman Suffers Spontaneous Combustion on Morning Commute”. The next thought was giggle-inducing, one where I imagined I could have “Shoes on Fire” a la Katniss from The Hunger Games. As I started my car I wondered if a spark from the ignition might blow me and the poor lawn crew into smithereens. So I drove the remainder of the way to work with the windows all down and hoped for no static electricity events. My skin was saved because we have showers at work and I availed myself of one for the first time in ten years of employment. Made for an interesting morning – who needs coffee after THAT?
Despite the flammable footwear, the first-time commute was pretty easy (yes, that happened on my first drive in from the new location, lol!). Biggest civilization score? Dunkin Donuts both coming and going 😀 Have I mentioned how much I like their coffee and how sad I am that they discontinued the 2-6 “Happy Hour” where any size coffee was a buck? But I digress. It still takes me an hour to get to work, but the drive is interesting at least. I pass over rivers, through acres and acres of Spanish Moss draped towering oaks, hear cicadas announcing their presence, and watch fog lift from the nooks and crannies of the verdant edges of the road for the first third of the drive. It reminds me of Tennessee and always makes me smile.
I successfully emptied my black water and gray water tanks without blowing a poop fountain out of the top of the RV in the vein of Robin Williams in his gag-laden funny movie “RV”.
Kind of like “The Hills Have Eyes”, even when you think you’re alone in an RV park with your own struggles, you really aren’t. I finally decided that the weather looked safe enough to try out the awning for more than twenty-four hours. I went out to unfurl it as I had practiced at the sales lot. I *thought* I remembered every step, but when I went to tug the thing outwards, it made a horrid sound like I was ripping through all of the hardware, and I abruptly stopped. The things aren’t cheap to replace. Diligently I hauled out the step ladder, checked and re-checked all of the knobs, arms, cam lock and such to make sure I’d done as I recalled. Tugged again. Another pterodactyl screech emanated from the bowels of the awning mechanism. A new arrival, currently setting up his rig across on the next aisle hollered something unintelligible other than ‘cam lock’. I was too embarrassed to holler back “Say what?” So I did what any sensible person would do at that point – I went inside and pulled up the YouTube instructional video that I had tucked away after watching several times. It still looked like I had done everything correctly. Back out I went to check yet again. Cam lock, arms, bars – check. I was standing there perplexed when a tiny, ancient and fragile man in a golf cart drove up. He alighted and began helping me investigate. I think he knows less than I do. But with his arrival, the flock showed up. Hollering man ambled over. Two other knights in white golf carts appeared. Much muttering and head nodding occurred, while hollering man simply went to work and had the awning down in about 45 seconds. I HAD done everything right. The awning was simply loudly complaining about being unfurled. But I’m not one to argue with a bunch of guys, and so I thanked them all and joked I hoped they’d all be around when it was time to put it away 🙂 What did I learn? Retired people are bored and watch new arrivals like a sit-com television show.
That I began my own personal Exodus during the memorial of Pesach was not lost on me, nor the appreciation that I felt having my children come and visit me and bring the babies. They were comfortable and relaxed other than being worried about the kids being so loud in a place so very, very quiet.
Two stellar nights will probably always stick out in my mind about my first weeks here. The first, as the sun huddled behind the thick stand of oaks and slid away, was nearly magical. There were lightning bugs on the wing, dancing like tiny LED’s on invisible strings. That’s something I’ve not seen in my home state since I was ‘knee-high to a grasshopper’, to quote my late Grampy. Well established Barred Owl communiques echoed in the dark sky spaces as the pair hunted the area, quietly calling back and forth to each other. Folded into that was the trill of the whippoorwill floating on the lightly stirring air, punctuated alternately by the harsh rasped calls of the Sandhill Crane pair as they strutted through the area. The scent of cows ruminating hay arrived on the breeze along with that damp, pungent and expectant smell of warmed earth and night things. The moon was low and fat in the sky, and I felt pure joy and contentment at that moment.
The second night is the night I used the laundromat. I see a ‘Say whaa?’ on your face, hah! I’ve hand washed my clothes for nearly three years now. But here, there is a laundromat within walking distance inside the park. It sits right beside the pool. So I sorted my laundry, dropped in my quarters and headed out to the pool. Most units were dark, and the pool was empty except for me. I floated, swam, dove and generally behaved like a deprived porpoise returned to water. The stars were overhead, clouds scudded across the moon, and it was quiet and cool. It was a pleasant end to a tiring work day.
The biggest thing I’ve learned from this move so far is that it doesn’t take much to make me happy. Small things make a huge difference. Oh, and living with sugar ants is a new challenge every single day 😀
Some wild things photography from my new neighborhood should make their way onto the blog at some point this weekend, so hang in there 🙂
~SE (who likes permanently camping so far…)