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:

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.