i would like to live in the countryside

For the past couple years, my oldest son has made a regular habit of declaring that when he grows up he’s going to live in the countryside. I won’t torture the definition of what country is but ordinarily he’ll share this inclination when we’re heading up to the Cascades and Olympics, foothills or otherwise. The feeling will also be evoked occasionally on wintertime walks in the arboretum below our hillside neighborhood or at grandma’s house in Lake Michigan country.  The when-I-grow-up thing obviously gets cooler and more interesting as children get older and it cracks me up how Adam’s going to have seven dogs, five pigs and three cats that come running pell-mell to the house at dinnertime when they hear John Williams’ score for Star Wars blasted over strategically-placed loudspeakers but at the same time it gets me to feeling a little sad because even though he’s only eight years old, I never completely discount any ideas that come out of his head including the fact he’s already thinking of the day when he moves away from Seattle to someplace with green fields and rolling hills.

I was thinking about this as I took some candid portraits of Adam resting atop Ship Peak, which is really just a series of ledges jutting out from the southeast slope of Turtleback Mountain on Orcas Island. We had finished dinner relatively early (which for our family is anytime before 9 PM) because the boys wanted to grill on the covered porch of our little cabin facing Puget Sound and it was turning crystalline-clear on this evening of the same day as the very rainy morning waterfall walk. The island seemed more beautiful than ever.

Adam joined me for this walk after some cajoling but as usual he was quite a happy camper (having inherited his mother’s positive disposition) as we ascended steeply through Arbutus menzeisii and Quercus garryana (Garry oak).  Several days removed from a pair of cortisone injections in my mangled shoulder, I was a tad worried about walking too slow at such a late hour and making us miss out on sunset atop Ship Peak so we included a flashlight and headlamp with our chocolate.  The brisk evening air buoyed us and I cinched my little backpack tightly as all get out until my spleen was carrying everything (because you can live without a spleen). We discovered delightfully airy ledges on the east slope of the mountainside, rocks blanketed by moss and grass that turn dusty gold in July.  The shadow of Turtleback reached further and further out from us until only Mt. Constitution, on the east lobe of the island, remained in the sunshine. And hark! Once again we could not escape the bellowing heifer of Crow Valley several miles distant whose mournful lowing fell on the deaf ears of her suitor (every time we drove past their pasture that week he was standing in the corner staring longingly at the rest of the herd in the meadow below, fodder for a handful of corny sex jokes). A major nicety of staying at West Beach Resort, a collection of rustic little cabins that have been around forever, is being only a few minutes away from here. The western half of the island (our side) was like a map below and we had fun retracing various steps we’d taken. And it was just us up here all by ourselves, in case you were wondering. We watched the sunset from the western, more forested side of Ship Peak for a few moments before descending in twilight that seemed to last forever. It got to be a dark walk but we never bothered with the flashlights.

If you follow that road below to the left of Adam’s shoulder, turn right at the next major intersection and keep driving for a few miles to the ferry terminal…….

10 thoughts on “i would like to live in the countryside

  1. I have a nice place here in Lewis County that I might be ready to sell him about that time, lol. I’m sure he loves the tranquility of the country and good for you guys that he has the opportunity to experience it on a regular basis.

  2. I share your son’s interest in life in the “country”. Seems like wherever you go in this beautiful state, you can find some serenity and a breathtaking view. Great story and photo!

  3. Isn’t it wonderful to hear children dream about their future? Your sons’ visions give me hope that their generation will maybe rekindle its connection with the earth (and also with seven dogs, five pigs and three cats). Thank you for this beautiful, meditative post.

    • Hi Heather, thank you for taking the time to stop by for another look. You’re right, it’s wonderful to hear children dreaming about their future. I feel enormous trepidation for them because of the significantly altered/altering physical world they’re inheriting and because the generations before them are woefully struggling to accept and react to harsh new realities, but I also feel up to the responsibility of preparing them to rekindle that connection you’re talking about.

      • I also feel enormous trepidation for the children I love when I consider the world they’re inheriting, Jason. Some of the problems our species is facing (and causing) seem insurmountable. But then I see how intelligent they are, and how creative and adaptable, and I think to myself, “They’ll find a way.” Your wisdom and gentle teaching make me think your boys will find their way, too — and they’ll be better equipped than most, because they’ll know how to find that path by working with nature rather than against her.

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