Beauty is the garden where hope grows…
I began gardening after I lost my job/career as a librarian in the spring of 2004. I found it stimulating and calming all at the same time. First I spent some time learning about drought tolerant plants in my area, picked out a few at a local nursery, and I was off. What a marvelous pastime!
I find gardening and philosophy go well together, providing life lessons and metaphors everywhere. Here’s a bit of gardening wisdom from a piece I wrote ages ago:
Eggplant Seed Wisdom (2005)
Today I was trying to decide whether to even attempt to grow a few eggplant plants from a packet of free seeds I was given. Then it suddenly struck me, what a silly question! Just put them out there and see what happens. It’s such a tiny investment of time and energy, and who knows, I might even get an eggplant or two out of it.
This is true of so many small decisions I make everyday of my life. I worry too long about whether to throw them out there and see if they take root. Why agonize over it? Just put the silly seeds in the ground. What have I lost if nothing comes up? This has evolved into my philosophy of “do what’s right in front of you, and stop worrying so much about every little thing.” This all has to do with trusting in the universe and following my intuition.
The universe put these seeds in my hand. I did not go out seeking after them. They are here and they certainly won’t turn into plants sitting in their neat little package on my living room table. I am the vehicle these tiny seeds have chosen to give them life. Whether I like it or not, I’m in charge.
After I planted the seeds and dutifully started watering them every few hours, I sat and thought about how many decisions in my life could be dispatched just as quickly and easily. No muss, no fuss.
My interest in gardening has led to only good things [and people] in my life. This summer I discovered a very cool nursery out in the country near Rye, CO.
Perennial Favorites is a wonderful place to visit. I love talking to the ladies there about plants that do well above 7,000 feet elevation. This is one of my favorite places on earth.
I’m constantly on alert as I drive around this area, for new wildflowers. Last week I saw a flower I’m certain I’ve never seen before near the railroad tracks in La Veta.
Isn’t the flower beautiful?
This plant stands about three feet tall on a thick stalk and the flowers shoot out like this. I found it among a bunch of sunflowers right along the tracks.
Would someone please tell me what this is? I’ll send you a free copy of any one of my books if you can identify this for me! Thanks!
This morning I woke up to a dense fog surrounding our home, so rare around here! We received almost half an inch of rain last night.
Only minutes later, the sun worked its way through the clouds, and the Spanish Peaks began to emerge…
Looking west, Mount Mestas suddenly appeared with a big fat gollop of clouds on top.
LOVE the cloud and sun show in this part of the country!
Home Sweet Home
I just read a new review of the Criterion re-release of the 1985 Albert Brooks film “Lost in America” in The Atlantic. This film is a satire about two upper-middle-class Californians who decide to quit their great corporate jobs, and go “find themselves” by traveling our country in a Winnebago.
I couldn’t help thinking, as I read this review, how pessimistic their viewpoint is. Perhaps these Californians failed at their goal simply because they didn’t have a good plan from the beginning. It’s one thing to quit your “boring, predictable existence earning a solid wage” with no real plan at all. It can be an entirely different experience to spend the time to find out where you most want to live ahead of time, and then create a sustainable lifestyle in that place.
Like so many of us from the Boomer generation, the main characters in “Lost in America” achieved financial success and yet could derive no pleasure from that success. What I have learned from decades of living is that financial success provides no pleasure, unless it also provides personal freedom.
Our greatest success in choosing this new, rural lifestyle has been the freedom we now enjoy. Many would find our lifestyle boring. If you have no interest in weather, wildlife, sunrises, and an ever increasing appreciation of the natural world, you would probably run back to the city after only a few weeks, if not days.
The silence here can be deafening, unless this is the kind of silence you’ve been seeking your entire life.
Monsoon showers are coming through every afternoon now,
with double rainbows attached!
“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there’s really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” – John Rushkin
Looking west from our house this evening…
a storm is coming!
I noticed this question under the list of searches that brought readers to this blog… It reminded me of a enjoyable conversation I had yesterday with a newcomer. She was wondering herself about the pros and cons of moving here. There are so many dimensions to that question. Here are a few:
First of all, it depends on where you plan to move. Walsenburg is one of the oldest towns in Colorado, and unfortunately it looks it. Such a strange mix of very old, rundown homes right next to nice, well-kept ones. There are certainly a few slum lords in this town.
The good news is homes are still quite inexpensive (less than $100,000) there. The bad news is you will probably have to spend quite a bit to update your home, possibly starting with your connection to the town’s water system! If you don’t mind putting lots of sweat equity into your new home and you realize it isn’t easy to find dependable employees to work on your projects, come on down! BTW, rentals are extremely difficult to find in Walsenburg or La Veta. Especially ones you could stand to live in. Walsenburg has two full-size grocery stores, the only ones in our county, and only a few decent restaurants. It also contains the ONLY STOPLIGHTS IN THE WHOLE COUNTY!
I cannot honestly recommend Walsenburg as a nice place to live. However, as you progress west of there on Highway 160 and see the tremendous view of the Spanish Peaks and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains ahead of you, you will then understand why many are moving here for the geography alone! We moved here to enjoy passive solar living in a rural setting, with endless blue skies, strange and wonderful rock formations, and that still unspoiled frontier feel.
Navajo Ranch, located in between Walsenburg and La Veta, offers incredible views, plus phone, electricity and good, dependable water available to all the lots. This is where we chose to build, with no regrets two years after moving up here! The lots are still inexpensive and the quiet is wonderful…
If you prefer to move to a quaint small town, choose La Veta, only about sixteen miles west of Walsenburg at around 7,000 feet elevation. La Veta still has that small town feel with around 800 year-round residents, however it almost closes down in the winter months. Both La Veta and Cuchara, eleven miles further south on Highway 12 and at 8,600 elevation, attract many families in the summer, but they go back home in the winter months. You will find lots and homes much more expensive as you proceed up to La Veta and Cuchara.
And remember, not everyone can breathe above 6,000 feet.
A major part of my discussion yesterday with my new friend was about making friends in this area. I made only one friend in Walsenburg in my year living there. I found few open to friendship of any kind, and some downright mean. La Veta seemed more open to new people, although some only acted friendly at first. This bothered me a lot when I first moved here three years ago, but now I have developed a couple of good connections with women in La Veta and in the Cuchara area. We have concluded that new people, especially single women, are seen as a bit suspicious around here.
Surprisingly, I don’t think much about friends anymore, because I enjoy spending time at our wonderful home alone and with Mike. Everything about this place seems right to me now…
To learn lots more about my transition from wondering if I made a mistake by moving here to loving it, check out my new book: A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado
“Don’t spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you have now, was once only hoped for.” — Epicurus