Saturday, February 2, 2008

Going to Town

One might think going to town is a simple act. You just grab your purse, make sure you've got your cell phone and car keys. And after that it's just a matter of getting into the car and driving. However, those of us who've chosen to live in a secluded canyon where the seasonal creek carves out a new bed each time it floods . . . well, we have to think hard about whether we can, whether we ought to wait a few more days, whether we've stocked up on essential supplies ahead of time and don't need to take risks. And, we have to listen to stories told about those who tried and got stuck, where the worst crossings are, and we have to incorporate that information into our decision process.

So far, several people have been stuck in the creek, all at the crossing just up canyon from me, fortunately. And, the creek has been a little kinder to us this year and/or the road placement has made for fewer crossings that before.

Here is Dave's truck starting to enter the water at the first crossing.

That leads to my point, which is that I went to town yesterday.
I followed Dave's truck as he and Marcia left for town. The two actual water crossings were not bad at all, and we splashed and sloshed our way across them without incident.

It does make me feel akin to the pioneers who crossed the continent in wagons and forded many a river of greater consequence than this little Alamo Creek. Maybe it gives me just a tiny inkling of what they thought and felt.

Here is Dave's truck dipping into the channel at the first crossing. Bear in mind that the creek is much lower than it was at high water mark.

After the water crossing, this left the main obstacle we had to confront--the mud pit.

And here he is coming out on the high side.

Speaking of feeling akin to others, this mud pit reminded me of the monster truck events, where tackling the mud pit separates the men from the boys. (Did I say that? Surely not!) Anyway, you get the point. In our

This is a photo of BigDawg coming through a mud pit at a competition. (Just to prove to you some people do this for fun and to give you some idea of what we did yesterday.)

case, Dave went first and taught me where all the bad spots were. I followed, paying attention to the lesson, and got through without mishap. It's a strange feeling to have so little control while driving a vehicle and somehow making it through.

After all that, my time in Santa Maria went smoothly. Breakfast with Dave and Marcia at Baker's Square was good. We had a nice, long conversation, always something interesting with those two. We won't mention anything about Starbuck's and purses full of spilled coffee. No, it wouldn't be politic to be too explicit about that. (smile)

Lunch at Baker's Square with Nancy (my sister with the new diamond stud earrings) and Kim (a very dear friend) was, as usual, wonderful. Lots of family news and stuff. If you don't like spicy food, don't order the Italian sausage sandwich. Whooo! It didn't say spicy on the menu. I can't remember ever returning food at a restaurant but, with a little encouragement from Nancy and Kim, I returned that. There was some discussion between the waitress and manager, but eventually the dust settled and I got a replacement sandwich.

In between those two meals, all the errands kept me running back and forth across town. And I didn't get home until after 7:00 p.m. Made it through the mud pit alone, and
in the dark, and scared. LOLOL No, just a little literary license there. It was fine. I felt confident, calm and composed. (smile)

I began all this to talk about the difference between living in town and living out here in Alamo Creek Canyon. And now I'm not sure I can tell you what it is. I've been watching pairs of blue birds inspect the blue bird house in the back yard and hoping someone will choose it to raise their babies this spring. But I watched birds in Little Mother's back yard when we lived with her and waited daily for the mocking bird to sing. So why is this so compelling?
Maybe it has to do with the immense sweep of unpeopled hills, where a flock of a hundred or so crows can come winging up the canyon and disappear over toward the Huasna.

Maybe it's the immediacy of a flock of magpies that keeps a lookout near my house at all times to signal the arrival of the goodies I'm about to strew around. Or the numerous little white-crowned sparrows that wait in the brush pile for the same largesse. Or it could be the anticipation I feel for the imminent arrival of mother cows who will daily trek back and forth just beyond my back fence, feeding on the green grass in the pasture on one side of my house and then going for the water in the trough by the ranch house on the other side.

The thing is, I know these birds and can sometimes even recognize individuals by their white wing markings. Of course I don't know the sparrows in the same way, but I'm enchanted by their cheeky way with one another. And the cows . . . they are absolutely wonderful. When they first arrive it's birthing time, and mornings often reveal a new calf or two . . . and what can be more engaging that watching young calves begin to play together.

Well, I'm asking myself, what does all this have to do with going to town? I suppose you're asking the same thing about now. Going to town is not like the old feelings I used to have about going to the circus or even going to the Saturday matinee. Going to town is more like a chore these days. Town hasn't changed--well, not that much. But I have changed. The canyon, with all its beauty and majesty and the uncertainty of the creek, has changed me.

The best part of going to town is coming home.

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