Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Life in the Country, the Draw of the City

We were lucky to find the place we live, really. We bought it in ’94, during a buyer’s market in Shasta County. It was what we were looking for, with a rustic yet comfortable log-sided house, privacy, wildlife, and space for our planned-for purchase of llamas. (Rhonda and I have long been enthusiastic fans of backcountry camping, but an auto accident years ago made carrying a backpack a non-option for Rhonda. That’s where the llamas came in.)

We probably couldn’t afford to buy our own place now, since the Redding area has “happened.” (Damn Sunset magazine.) And, I love it here, with the creek, the wildlife, and the overall appeal of living in nature.

Everything comes with a price, though. Our “price” is inconvenience. If we need something from a hardware or grocery store, it gobbles an hour and a half of the day, minimum. There’s no high-speed internet access here; I rejoice if the dial-up speed exceeds 28.8. I love the setting we live in, but sometimes I miss life in town, with its opportunities for a spur-of-the-moment dash for a cup of coffee or to browse through books.

We do a lot of consolidating when it comes to running errands.

And then there’s Dylan. He’s six going on seven now. Driving him to school is no big burden, since his school is close to Rhonda’s office. He’s not really interested in organized sports as of now (I think he’s interested in sports, but not the organized), but that could change. I’ve worried a lot about him growing up in quasi-isolation as compared to living in town.

I’ve lately thought about talking to Rhonda about moving into town. But then, Dylan said something that brought it all back into focus.

We were walking around the property, looking for an imaginary grizzly bear that had been stalking the llamas. After Dylan had his fill of his fantasy world (he dispatched the grizzly with a Bowie knife), we took a break to feed the chickens and llamas. When we got to the llamas, Dylan, as usual, grabbed a handful of hay to hand-feed Benny. (I’m not sure if Benny is Dylan’s favorite llama of the five we have, but Dylan is definitely Benny’s favorite human.) We cleaned out the water containers, filled up the hay feeder, then walked to a little rise in the llama’s area. From the rise, there’s a clear view of Shasta Bally peak, towering over the town of Redding.

“Daddy?” “Yeah, Punkin’?” He looked at me. “I love living here.” He went back to gazing at Shasta Bally. He looked so serious, so wrapped up in the moment. “Me too, Punkin’,” I said, with a little catch in my throat.

Move from here? What the hell was I thinking?


Kelly said...

Just stumbled across your blog as I was hitting the "Next Blog" button. I'm trying to distract myself while my son cries himself to sleep, which is thankfully a rare occurrence but still not any fun. I enjoyed reading your stories and love hearing about your son. It was a pleasant visit...thanks!

Bob Barbanes said...

Hal, have you looked into HughesNet (nee DirecWay)? Here in Guanaja, we were using a local internet provider - a shady character who oversubscribed his business and then taught kiddies how to download movies and music, eating up his limited bandwidth. Fed up, we switched to HughesNet highspeed and have never been happier. Our internet phone doesn't work as well - it has a noticeable delay - but it is acceptably good.

Like the commercial says, if you have a clear view of the southern sky, I'd look into HughesNet. It works great for us!

Hal Johnson said...

Thanks for the HughesNet tip, Bob. I checked out the website, and it looks interesting. Once I have an income again--I'm among the 23 PHI pilots not yet called back to work--I'll check into it. The "clear view of the southern sky" thing might be a problem, since our place has bunches of trees, but then, our Dish Network reception is okay.