I've got ripplin' waters to wake me
To the mornin', my woman and love
And tall pine trees a-pointin' up easily
To heaven above
Blue spruce flamin' on the grate in the evening
Takes the chill away fine
Cut the telephone line and the story's the same.
~ Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, "Ripplin' Waters"
It could be a witch's cottage - a little 1930s house at the top of a rickety staircase, a fieldstone retaining wall, tiny rooms and a little fireplace. There are no neighbors; just the mountainside and a road leading half a mile down to the Kanawha River in Charleston, W.Va. It has become the foundation of my fantasy life.
Becaue I fell in love with the Kanawha Valley on a recent road trip, I decided to investigate real estate in the area. There are crappier homes for sale - mobile homes and abandoned shacks - but this one has everything I want. Or it lacks everything I want: neighbors. The asking price is considerably lower than the equity I have in my current home, so I could buy it outright, assuming I could sell my house.
That's the sticking point: sell this house?! This house was the project of a lifetime. With our daughter, it's the unifying feature of my life with Dale. We spent our vacations on home repairs, renovations, deck building, gardening. Our wedding gift from my parents was two pecan trees. This is MY home, MY land. If you put your ear to the ground you can hear my heartbeat; and if you squint just right, you can see my little girl playing, watching ants and singing songs to herself.
But I'm afraid that's the hoarder mentality that comes from trying to stockpile Stuff. Used to be I just wanted to live in the mountains; a cave would do. I still want to live in the mountains, but ... <arrgghh> How did it come to this? I can't bear to leave stuff behind, even to fulfill a lifetime dream? That's crazy. This is not who I am.
Property doesn't really "belong" to anyone, in my personal utopia. This is Earth, and we are all here to share in its riches, regardless of who holds the deed to this patch of ground and the structures on it - e.g., the bank, the county assessor or me. I am happy to have all this beauty and know that I'm not trespassing when I flop on the ground (and flatten a mole hill). This house and acre of land keep me happy. But I go to great lengths to maintain a way of life that is becoming less sustainable and less rewarding. I end up serving the property (the mortgage) instead of being sustained by it.
I believe this is the typical American story, and the reason for midlife and even late-life crises, when people suddenly walk out of the life they've built and test their wings on something new. I didn't mean to build a prison for myself. I don't really require all that much living space.
Yeah, it's all about downsizing: finding a lifestyle that doesn't keep me perpetually in debt, perpetually working 60 hours a week. It could be done here, paring back on the job or the commute while keeping the framework of the life I've built here. Then again ... why? Why live in the Midwest if I love the mountains?
So, there's this little house on a mountainside above the Kanawha River. I would have to learn to pronounce "Kanawha." CAN-a wha? Kan-AH-wa? Dunno. Also I am told I'd have to learn to play banjo, if I move to West Virginia. Maybe. I am comfortable here, which is the best reason I can think of for moving. I don't want to be a hobbit, preferring to stay home in my comfortable burrow rather than having adventures. (We listened to The Hobbit on audiobooks as we drove through Ohio, but turned it off when we got to the mountains.)
I bet I could see the stars and the Super Moon as well from the Kanawha Valley as I do from the farmlands of Illinois.
And speaking of the Super Moon: I found it necessary to unfriend a fellow on a social site when he blasphemed the Goddess Luna for a disappointing show the other night. Disgusting. Go watch Spielberg if you think the moon isn't spectacular enough. It was a night when you could feel the magic on your skin, the moonlight icy hot, the wet Earth soft under bare feet releasing stirring aromas, the air still and anticipatory. I went out shortly after moonrise and again later, when the moon was at her fullest; then watched her progress across the sky from my bedroom window.
The tides of human bodies are affected by the moon, and my tide is turning.
And if the dam breaks open many years too soon
And if there is no room upon the hill
And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.
~ NAN (No Attribution Necessary)