There is a lyric about a moth in the song this blog is named after; I’ve always felt a kinship with that little critter:
... there’s a moth outside my kitchen door
She’s bonkers for that bare bulb
Flying round in circles
Bashing in her exoskull
And out in the woods she navigates fine by the moon
But get her around a lightbulb and she’s doomed
So you can imagine my disappointment when I confess that I might be cool with bears and being alone in the dark and homemade showers and a variety of other things, but I have little tolerance for flitty moths bouncing around my bedroom at night, always of course by the reading lamp beside my head. This is not a phobia, but an absolute irritation, not unlike the drip of a leaky faucet or even nails on a chalkboard.
Tonight I added something new to my short list of irritating nighttime disturbances: listening to mice in the walls of a tiny camper. Mice in the walls of a house? Not so bad. But a tiny camper? No way.
Fortunately there hasn’t been moths inside the camper yet, it just came to mind as I sit here typing by headlamp, serenaded by a merry band of busy mice in the walls who are incessantly chewing and scurrying at a rate so annoying that I’ve spent the last five minutes thinking of various torture methods that would feel more pleasurable to my nervous system than listening to their non-verbal banter. Phew. Felt good to get all that out in one sentence. Mice in the walls at home don’t bother me, but here, it’s just so freaking close I cannot tell you how much this is under my skin. Wish I could hang out with that bear right about now.
On Grandma June’s 90th birthday (9 1/2 years ago) I asked her what it took to make a life up here. Not financially, but emotionally. Spiritually. How does one create a vibrant life in a place so quiet, with so few “things” to do, at least according to societal standards. I’ll never forget her answer: You have to want for very little, and your expectations will need to shift. If you can do that you'll be fine. Also, surround yourself with animals, friends and family if you can, and take the time to enjoy all of this fresh air.
What struck me most was her immediate proclamation of wanting for very little. You can’t do this, and that. Second, she knew the importance of surrounding herself with positive things that were within her control: animals, friends, and family. (Rumor has it the soirees on this ridge back in the day were legendary.) I don’t recall her mentioning it, but her gardens were up there in importance with animals, friends, and family. Prettiest, most productive gardens you ever did see. And finally, what is it all worth if you’re not taking the time to feel your place here, and enjoy the fresh air.
Now I’m thinking, who am I to be irritated, ungracious, put out by these mice. Seems I just showed up here a few weeks ago and as far as I can tell, this tin can of a dwelling was placed smack in the center of their friendly mouse turf. Funny thing is, they don’t seem to be the ones who mind sharing, in fact they’re quite pleased with the addition of this freshly insulated camper at their disposal. Heck, they’d probably high five me if they could. Maybe I should stop being irritated, and instead just want for very little. Who says my walls have to be quiet?
Anyway. I took a walk today, a two mile loop along dirt roads here on the ridge. Really nice that it brings you right back around with new scenery the whole way. I watched two turkey hens walking their broods across the road in orderly fashion, each set of hatchlings hovering close to their respective mothers. It occurred to me that I’d never seen this before: two mama hens together with their kiddos, going about their day in community, surrounding themselves with friends. It was a great moment. After that, I came back to camp, took a shower, then headed to the farmers market and picked up supplies for the next few days. I joined Uncle Jeff and Aunt Johanna for dinner at their place and it sure was a treat after the handful of dried apples I’ve been having the last few nights. Which sounds pathetic, I realize, but it’s not. I like dried apples and they don’t create any dishes. But I sure was reminded of how delicious dinner can be once I stepped into Aunt Johanna’s kitchen. And then, I came home and well, you’ve already heard how the rest of the night played out.
The pictures in this post are from my walk earlier today; look who I found hanging out by his favorite logging crew. Sure would be nice if he came up here and told the mice in my walls to beat it. Not that they’d listen. Mice sure do have a lot of attitude for such little creatures. Good thing I’ve evolved and now want for very little (note to self).
There is an unexpected comfort to these photos, being that I’m here alone, and that comfort is seeing him imprinted in each and every one. “I used to ride my dirt bike all over these mountains. Seems so long ago... We skied down the toll road in the winter. It was always a great run... The school bus picked us up here. It’s far from the house so the man who built these stone walls allowed us to stash our bicycles behind the wall while we were at school. He built all of these by hand, even wrote a book about it. He used to live in a house right there, but it burned down.”
To me, he is everywhere.
I guess my bear friend heard my telepathic call last night and he returned this morning. Careful what you wish for and all that. This bear, as I imagine most bears do, really makes himself known which I appreciate. Heavy on his feet, and of course the unmistakable heavy breathing that sounds as if he’s spent the last two days practicing intensive pranyama. A real master. I got to thinking about how Grandma June, just a parcel of land away, has lived here on her own for decades, without much disturbance from the bears that roam these woods. How did she keep them at a respectable distance? And then I remembered.
Right. She always had a dog or five beside her. So Ozzy and his compatriots aren’t just here for their good looks. What kind of bear would attempt to penetrate this crew? Surround yourself with animals... (and friends... and family.)
And want for very little.