It might as well be spring

I know that the change of seasons is still a month away, and that many of you are still suffering the pangs of winter blues. But here in the Possum Kingdom, we have been unbelievably spoiled this year.

Things are already starting to bloom, and most days we can go out with just a light jacket. Even the early mornings aren’t THAT cold, with temps around 7 or 8 degrees C (low 40s F). Then, this morning, for the first time I realized we had reached that magical moment when I no longer feel the need for carrying a flashlight around with me for that first walk of the day.

There was also a wonderful chorus of birdsong and the other day we saw our lovely blue heron, whom we haven’t seen since last fall.

The Committee des Fetes is already meeting to plan this year’s village events and before we know it, the clocks will be springing forward (unfortunately).

Shmoo has pretty much totally blown his winter coat. We’ve been picking pieces of it out on our walks and leaving it in the gardens so the birds can use it to build their nests. I’m sure it will make lovely, soft, warm nests for some soon to be born baby birds.

I looked in the cellar and realized we had hardly burned any wood this winter, because we just haven’t needed a fire in the fireplace more than a few times. No wonder we all laugh and say we live in the Privileged Land! We see the weather forecasts for all around us, but we’ve been truly lucky.

This week we did have a massive amount of rain, and the rivers are all running high and fast. But that is a good thing, and although it is less fun for dogwalking, it is also important to have it, so I try not to complain too much.

May you soon see signs of spring wherever you are.

Ciao for now.

Randy

Anniversary Addendum

In that strange way that sometimes happens, I just had a perfect example of how different things are here from life in L.A.

We just came back from our afternoon dog walk and an elderly man who I used to see at the Library and who we often see sitting out in the sun on one of the benches, stopped me. He asked me if I could tell him where he lived. I had absolutely no idea. I took him across the street to ask Didier in the butcher shop. Although he recognized him as well, he also had no idea.

Next stop was the Pharmacy. I was sure they would know, but they didn’t. One of the young women who works there went next door to the florist’s to ask if Brigitte knew where he lived. She DID, but he swore that he didn’t live there anymore! Eventually, there was quite a crowd in the street surrounding the gentleman, as everyone tried to figure it out. Brigitte called the retirement home to see if they knew. Finally, a lady passed who had seen him move into a new apartment a day or so ago. Mystery solved.

Someone from the Pharmacy offered to walk him home and all was well. All I could think of was that if that happened in L.A., the police would have come, the poor man would have been put into the “system” and it would have been a nightmare. Or, worse, no one would have even stopped to talk to him and he would have wandered, getting more and more lost.

There is a lot to be said for life in a small community.

Ciao again.

Randy

Anniversary

This past Sunday was the sixth anniversary of our coming to the Possum Kingdom with 12 suitcases, a dog crate and our dear, departed Diva Maggie.

That winter was a big change for two Angelenos who hadn’t seen real snow in a long, long time. In fact, we were far more used to winters like the glorious days that we are having right now. I seem to remember never feeling quite warm enough that February.

How we’ve changed in six years! Our Maggie left us, Shmoo and Peaches arrived. We certainly never planned for my mother to join us here, but she did. The house we’ve bought has been primped and turned into something that suits us perfectly and we have gotten used to climbing more stairs in a day than we probably did in a year in L.A.

We’ve learned to look forward to our three times daily walks by the river as much as the dogs do, and are always eager to see what Mother Nature has in store for us, whether it is a hedgehog, an egret, a heron or a soaring eagle.

Things that seemed strange to us at first now seem normal; after all, does one REALLY need to go shopping on a Sunday? We have become part of a community; something that one never really felt in a big city like Los Angeles. We can feel safe out walking at any time of day or night.

One of the changes that has made a huge difference for us, and that we would never have imagined, is that having a television in only one room in the house, which is not central to where we spend most of our day, we never have it on for “background noise.” That means that we just about never watch television news, because we are not usually in front of it during news hours, or if we are, we have other things we’d rather watch. This has made us realize that being constantly bombarded by local news in particular, builds a climate of fear and insecurity. Reading articles in the newspaper or online doesn’t impact you in the same way. So, we feel generally more relaxed and less stressed.

Not being afraid of going to a doctor when we are sick or losing our house if we need serious medical treatment is also relaxing. We don’t think we would have been able to maintain health insurance if we had stayed in the L.A. area.

We’ve learned to eat as locally as possible. We have weeks where we never get into the car at all. We don’t think twice about walking to one of our local shops for something we need at the last minute. We take time to chat with our neighbors. We have learned that rain doesn’t just mean bad traffic on the freeway.

Not a day goes by when we aren’t happy with our decision. Granted, it’s not something for everyone and there are plenty of people who would not be happy giving up life in a giant city for that in a rural village, no matter what country that village is in. But for us, it was the best choice we ever made.

Thank you, Chalabre, for being our new home and welcoming us into your community.

Ciao for now,

Randy

Almost Guilty

But not quite. I’m feeling a smidgeon of guilt, only because so many of you are suffering from one of the worst winters in recent memory, while here in the Possum Kingdom we are feeling truly blessed.

We did have a sprinkling of snow right around Christmas, and I did get to try out my nifty, new YakTrax cleats which kept JM and me from falling on our butts out in the gardens. But that snow dissipated within a few days and since then we’ve been feeling very spoiled.

Yes, we’ve had some seriously cold days with temperatures down in the teens (F) and we’ve had some days with quite a soaking of rain. But mostly, we’ve had sunny days and temperatures that barely count as “winter.”

The mornings are cold, generally below freezing and with a good layer of frost out in the fields. Sometimes, we have that kind of damp, icy air that makes it all feel even colder. But once the sun comes out, the frost melts and by early afternoon we have had temperatures that are in the mid-sixties (F) and maybe up to 70 (F) a couple of times.

This weekend was particularly glorious. Yesterday, when we took the dogs for their late afternoon walk, it seemed that half the village was out in the gardens walking around. And, of course, as soon as the weather gets like this, it is IMPOSSIBLE to go out for the least little errand without stopping to chat to all the neighbors, because they are all out wandering around as well. And, you can just tell that they are all suddenly feeling happy again.

So, I do feel sorry for the rest of you, truly I do. But I think I’m going to stop feeling guilty about not being miserable and go outside to enjoy the sun while it lasts.

Ciao for now.

Randy

A Recommendation

This is just a brief note to introduce my dear friend Raven Okeefe’s beautiful, hand carved walking sticks and shepherd crooks. Raven carves the handles and her husband Ian makes the sticks themselves. They get the wood from their own farm in Oregon and use local materials for anything they don’t harvest themselves. All the sticks are made with love and care.  Raven can also carve the handles to resemble your very OWN dog! This is a truly special item, and extremely reasonably priced considering the amount of love and hard work that goes into each stick.

If you need a stick to help you get around, or just want one to use so you can look spiffy, consider one of these. Raven and Ian are struggling to keep their sheep farm going, and this is one of the ways they can make enough money to pay their mortgage, so any sales that I can send their way will keep them going just a little longer.

Thanks for your time.

Ciao for now.

Randy