Monday, October 7, 2013

The mountains are calling and I must go



A little over a month ago we moved from Orange County to a mountain cabin in the Los Padres National Forest. This is what we wake up to in the morning:


We knew that things would be different. We now have to drive nearly an hour to get to an affordable grocery store. We've already had near-freezing weather, snow is on the way, and we've exchanged palm trees for pine trees. We literally live on the side of a mountain, and we're still figuring out exactly what that means. While we were moving in, Lindsay got a little education from a conversation with our neighbor:
Neighbor: Do you have any cats? Do you want one? 
Lindsay: ? 
Neighbor: I found a feral cat, and I've been feeding him and nursing him back to health. 
Lindsay: Well, actually we’re kind of allergic to cats.
Neighbor: We’ve also got raccoons here. You like raccoons? 
Lindsay: They're alright . . . 
Neighbor: There’s a whole shed full of ‘em across the street. I feed them too. See? There’s one on my porch right now. They’re real friendly. 
Lindsay: Oh, wow. Okay. 
Neighbor: How do you feel about bears? 
Lindsay: Real ones? The big kind? 
Neighbor: Yeah, they get big. This guy finds a mother bear with cubs, and he takes out a pistol and shoots her. Idiot! Anyway, those cubs were living under your porch for a while. 
Lindsay: Our porch? 
Neighbor: Yup. Animal control said to just let nature take its course, but . . . 
Lindsay: You fed them? 
Neighbor: Yup. 
So, gotta watch out for those critters. I'm waiting for the day Addison wanders in with a moose on a leash.

We were a little worried about how well Addison would transition to a new place. When you're three, your house and your routines are your whole world (heck, they're still my whole world). And for the first day or two, she had a tough time. She missed her Grammy and Gramps. One night, she sobbed for 45 minutes, saying that she "just does not have any friends here!" and "there are not so many people here!" And recentlyAddison told us that "sometimes when I'm playing by myself in my room, I pretend I have no friends and am very, very lonely."

Still, it wasn't but a few days before she was wandering around at the playground holding some random kid's hand, instructing her "husband" to dance with her like Beauty and the Beast. 

And she's excited by neighbors she can interact with. While we construct make-shift play equipment in the backyard, she has conversations with our elderly neighbors, who tend a garden and always pop something off a plant for Addison to put in her mouth. She loves their cherry tomatoes. 


With a little coaching, Addison wrote them a thank-you note, on which she drew tomatoes and a space ship. I couldn't find her for about thirty seconds, and then I heard something outside. She was standing at the fence between our lots, shouting at their house:

Addison: "Neighbors! HEY! NEIGHBORS! I HAVE SOMETHING FOR YOU! HEEEEEYYYYY! COME OUT HERE! COME! OUT! RIGHT! NOW!"
We're still working on what it means to be "neighborly," though I can't fault her enthusiasm.

The adventurous streak is strong in this one. She gets that more from her mother than from me. I love her boldness, her confidence, her inquisitiveness, even if it sometimes catches me off-guard. But I can understand that there's nothing quite like exploring a brand new place, especially when that new place is filled with rocks, lakes, mountains, and all manner of furry critters.


In the end, Addison has transitioned to our new life even better than I imagined she would. Every day that she snatches up her staff and asks to walk to the park or the library, I'm inspired by her excitement for a new quest. When she requests some time to go out back and dig a hole, I'm gratified by her eagerness to go out under the pines and get her hands dirty. When we step outside to search the clear night sky for the brightest, luckiest star, I'm reminded that she's an adventurer, and that to her, the magic of the world vastly outweighs the anxieties. She's a brave kid, and it's gonna stretch me to keep up with her.

14 comments:

  1. I decided long ago I like reading about the outdoors more than experiencing it. But this sounds equally lovely and trying. And your daughter is such a pip. Wish my son was there to hang out with her and be adventurous together!

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    1. Brent, they'd have a blast together . . .

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  2. Shadows are humorous sometimes Neal. At first glance of the photo of Addison sliding down the board, it looked like the rock outcropping was actually a deep square pit. I was trying to wrap my mind around it for a few seconds.:-)

    Sounds awesome. We hope to do the same in a few years.

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    1. Actually, Matt, it totally IS a pit. Not very deep . . . maybe a foot. There's loose dirt in it that she likes to land in.

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    2. Clearly, I need to go outside more. I don't think I realized that you had Addison sliding down into a pit.

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    3. The pit of despair, Lindsay. The pit of despair.

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  3. Your new place is so beautiful! What a VIEW! And there are so many things for Addison to see and do and experience! How exciting! She is just utterly the best. Reading about her always makes me smile.

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    1. We're loving it! Although . . . we haven't been here during the winter yet. We'll see if my tune changes once we've got six inches of snow a drafty chimney . . .

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  4. Oh, it is so beautiful! Hope you're all up on your rabies vaccines, though. :)

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    1. Thanks! We had to get rabies shots when Addison started biting, so we're good . . .

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  5. I seem to recall that rangers who haven't been mangled discourage feeding bears, where "haven't been mangled" does all the work in that sentence. Also, that's a lovely place to live, if the picture does it even half justice. Also also, I realized recently that we don't live around raccoons anymore, and now my son has no idea what they are -- I realized this because he has a stuffed raccoon toy and he told me it was a dog. But he knows what a pukeko is, which is a trade I'll happily make.

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    1. Yeah, I've heard much the same about feeding things that can tear limbs off your body. Pukekos sound cute.

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  6. Those are some of the best photos I've seen in a while. I can see the adventures she's readying herself for in her posture. I can't wait to have one of my own.

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    1. Thanks! She's TOTALLY ready for adventuring.

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