My eyes open in the dark, savoring the sounds of crickets and the edge of morning. It is quiet but not-quiet; life wells up in the dark and seeps into the windows of the van. I stretch and lay here thinking of all of the mornings like this I have missed while being surrounded by walls and the sounds of fans, fighting with the alarm snooze – once, twice, thrice.
The quiet makes me want to be quiet, and attend to morning tasks with gentleness and appreciation. Warm water for my face. The smell of coffee as it swirls in the cup. I look through the fan cover and can see the stars, although the blush of dawn is creeping across the sky softly, turning things pink and pure, like the cheeks of a baby.
I swing the doors of the van open and inhale the moistness of morning, that moment when everything is a blank slate, full of possibility. Soon the sounds of the city join the crickets and the early bird song, but the city wakes slowly.
Punch in time for work comes far too quickly, as always. Throughout the day I watch and hear the hawk pair calling to each other overhead. My little wrens hop across the cedar door mat and try to investigate the interior of the van, startled away by my movement. Butterflies flit by, and in the shafts of sunlight tiny little lacewings go traveling by the bug screen. A leafhopper goes helicoptering through the grass and into the shrubs. Everywhere there is so much life! It can be distracting a bit though, as who wants to listen to a meeting when so much activity is just a few feet away, a gentle breeze brushing your feet as voices echo in a headset.
The workday passes quickly, marked by jumping up and moving solar panels as the sun traverses the sky. I have become familiar with when the sun will clear the treetops of the sycamore, my tallest trees, and when the light will appear behind the van before creeping to the front and hitting the panels, causing the battery LED to surge with activity. I eat a sandwich and chips at lunch with my bare feet in the grass and listen to music and wonder why I never did these things before. Moving a van into my driveway did not change my landscape or the life within it. It did however, rekindle something within me.
After work the little Coleman stove is ready and waiting to do its part for dinner and hot water. I make some broccoli slaw and throw a steak on the grill while the coffee pot burbles to a boil. Sitting in a lawn chair to eat with an upturned box for a table, I fight a yellow jacket for my steak, discovering that Datil Pepper sauce renders it uninteresting to them, but makes my taste buds come alive! Win-win. The shadows deepen and the night veil starts easing across the sky, bringing with it the bats, the last calls of the blue jays and cardinals and a softness that lulls one to want to rest.
As I button things down for the night, I wonder what the world would be like if we moved more fully in tune with nature and the creation. If we just saw it more, not as a blur through our car windows or as a task to battle and beat into submission, but as the cradle in which we live.
And these are my thoughts, five days in, just living in a van in my driveway, practicing before I take my first trip.