|somewhere here is a piece of my heart|
Oh the fantasy of a perfect life! It's different for everyone. What would mine be and how would I live? When I am alone in the dark, just before I fall asleep, I imagine the contentment I feel in my future life. When I need a "happy place" this is where I go: the surroundings are mapped out and I know every corner and detail of this life, of this simple happiness. The exact location is yet to be determined but the rest, the rest is nearly guaranteed. Here's a little glimpse into what I hope will be my future.
There are a few things that give me indescribable pleasure and no matter where I end up, they are necessities: mountains, a clear glacier-fed river, wildlife, a loyal and well behaved dog, a pair of cats (maybe more), the smell of a forest, good trout fishing, a chainsaw, heat from a wood stove, a birdhouse and bird feeder, a reliable truck, good coffee, internet (to order books and watch movies), and the love of a beautiful full-figured woman who occasionally spends the night but lives in her own house.
I am no longer interested in the house and picket fence or fancy condo in a city with a commute to an executive job and an addiction to a $6/cup of coffee. I think maybe that's the dream of twenty somethings new to the world and still optimistic about his or her oyster. Having lived in a city the last three years, I can appreciate the conveniences of cheap on-demand everything but this instant access seems to quickly erode two valuable lessons: the value of a well earned dollar and the virtue patience. People in cities soon lack both these qualities to some degree. I soon found if I couldn't have what I wanted when I wanted for the price I wanted I got bitchy, yes boy bitchy, and more and more I was escaping every chance I could. I lived a while in the place of my dreams. Certain circumstances forced me to leave there, to leave pieces of my heart behind. I had to leave behind the buried bodies of my friends, memories of love and loss and magic; inexplicable healing powers of the spirits of the earth, lessons about life and death and survival. The time I spent in this place gave me a taste of something not unlike the beauty of a truffle: natural and earthy and rich.
In my perfect life, I would build a log cabin and studio on a piece of property with a view of the mountains. I would have an apple tree and a plum tree. I would grow cat mint and beets, carrots and zucchini, sweet peas and lilies. I would cut dry logs with a chainsaw, chop them with a 6 or 8 pound splitting moll and stack the wood in a neat pile in a woodshed for winter. I would have flannel sheets and a wool blanket on an incredibly comfortable double bed. I would sleep with the windows open a crack to feel the coolness of the night fall across my head. I would listen to the coyotes sing to each other and the owls low cooing as they hunt silently in the meadow.
Chickadees and Juncos would wake me up in time to make a coffee and sit out on the deck with the dog and greet the day before opening the studio and pulling prints until lunch. For lunch I would have a peanut butter sandwich and glass of milk, chocolate chip cookies maybe an apple from my tree. I would take my dog for a walk through the forest and pick up bark or bits of moss to make paper. The cats would come too. In the afternoon I might write at the picnic table or go into town for groceries and check the mail.
In the winter I might play a game of hockey or wander around the hardware store and look at tools. I might go to the lake and cut a hole in the ice and try my luck at getting a fresh, cold trout for supper. I would start a fire in the wood stove and fill the bird feeders. I would eat hot, home made split pea soup with a soft buttered dinner bun. I would have a long hot shower and shave only if I felt like it. I might watch the news or a hockey game, but more likely I would sit in an overstuffed armchair and read for a couple of hours. Have a cup of green or lemon ginger tea before stoking the fire and crawling into bed.
You see, I am a simple man. My heart still lives in a fairly small, although not isolated place. The fibres of my soul and my emotions are tangled amongst the branches of the forest and the rhythm of my heartbeat echoes in the mumbling whispers of the river. When I feel the wind blow across my skin, whether freezing or warm like the breath of a satisfied lover, I feel alive, I feel calm, I feel at home. Every time I drove through the high canyon walls of red rock away from the setting sun, away from the place I buried my friends I felt a pain in my chest, a panic and sadness that I might not ever see my beloved river, experience the peace of those mountains or the quiet spaces at the end of old logging roads. I hate good-byes.
And so during the quiet dark hours I dream of a future in that place, cradled by mountains and soothed by the white sound of river water. A place where my body is connected to the earth, my heart adopts the trees, and the coyotes sing at my doorstep.