Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Not So Rough

Can't say 'we're roughin' it' out here on El Rancho. There were some who could not fathom our move east. They could not comprehend selling a home by the sea, for a Ranch with dirt and tumble weeds. We came here for more space; room for three growing boys, cats, rabbits and grandparents. We have plenty of room, chickens and trees, caring neighbors and more to enjoy than we ever anticipated.

It never occurred to me that a sunset could be so spectacular, looking east. We no longer see the last dip of the sun's rays in to the Pacific, which is lovely. But now we see an entire sky, a panorama of light and color, long shadows and glowing foothills. Looking east, and north and south, we see the snow dusted mountains, and rocky hilltops that surround the valleys. The setting sun is a more gradual and widespread process, than we had known before.

The other evening, I was absorbed in some project, and William came bounding through the front door. He'd been riding his bicycle around, and breathlessly he called me to come out. "You've gotta see this," he delighted. I can no longer recall what I had been doing; one of those projects that you hate to set down. But I could hear in his voice enthusiasm that could not be denied, so I followed him and his instructions. "Don't look at the sky, until we reach the end of the driveway. You have to see all of it, the way I saw it." The sky was striped with wide bands of billowy clouds, that disappeared beyond the avocado grove in the west and stretched east in fading, dark blue light. Looking west again, between the clouds, the sky was pink. It was the sumptuous color of guava flesh; it caused the back lit clouds to blush.

We stood side by side and sighed. We tried to describe the colors and we tried to express our wonder. We watched as birds took off on sunset flights. They darted and swooped, they lit on the bare tips of winter branches and sang out, like poets for the evening star. The crickets made their music too. Our black cat, Chango, sleeping in the grassy weeds under an orange tree, turned his face to the sky and rolled on his back. He came to us, wrapping his serpentine tail around our legs. We gave him the affection he sought. We called the chickens to their home and listened to their clucking good night.

Alex and Max met us out in the garden. Alex showed me the huge guava fruit on his tree. Max asked to be let in to the chicken coop to check the chicas once more. We picked peas and sat on the swings. Max asked about swimming. Alex asked about dinner. We talked about our trips to Wisconsin and Oregon, to Hawaii. We made up silly songs, and sang them with silly voices. And we all made wishes on the first stars that began to appear over our heads.

We have few regrets about moving east. We wake up with the cheer and promise in the light of a sunrise. We hear the proud cackling of hens laying eggs. Grandmother grows roses, too numerous to count and blooming abundantly in the middle of January. Cats gallop down the hall, and children do too. There is work yet to be done; a gate to build and a pasture to clear. Right now the hens are beneath the window, by my desk. They are scratching for grubs, and watching for spiders. They have laid three beautiful eggs. And in the kitchen there are three bags of avocados from our dear neighbor's trees, a bunch of cilantro from our pasture and a plate full of fragrant limes. Come east, or west. Come to our Rancho and share the sunset and try some guacamole, have a cold drink. Come watch the chickens run when we call. Come play and run in the pasture and up the driveway. And when the stars begin to shine over our heads, make wishes with us.

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