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Settling in to a Small Town, Part 2: Evening Walks

At the end of almost every day, we go outside and enjoy exploring or taking a long walk. Sometimes our walks take us under apple and plum trees, where we see if we can reach any more of the ripe fruit just ready for the taking.  On those days, if we've got apples, we head into the community barn, where we stomp an apple into a few big chunks and then feed the pieces to the horses.  Mocha, Holly and Bugsy come eagerly over and leave slobber on our hands as they quickly gobble up the sweet fruit.  Patches, the donkey, makes a loud, jealous braying noise, HEE-HAW, HEE-HAW, obviously angry that he can't reach the gate from his pen.  But I guess he has not learned his manners yet, and so he's secluded there in the corner.  Usually we also encounter a neighbor in or around the barn or community garden and so we visit awhile.

Other times, we head on down the road, over the bridge and along a path that runs by the creek.  There, we've recently seen salmon spawning.  As we walk the partially forested path, I fill my hoodie pockets with blackberries that I will later feed to our chickens upon our return home.

But first, we head all the way out to the strait, where we breathe deeply of the sea air, climb over the rocks along the water and then sit on a big bolder to watch the waves roll in.  My daughter explores in the rocks to see what she can find. Sometimes it's black crabs underneath the rocks. We look further out to see if we can spot any seals.

It's getting dark now, so before long we hurry back, and I look closely into the shadows, fearful of bears (someone on the other side of the creek had spotted a black bear the other day; I've been worried about that ever since). Luckily, instead, we encounter only deer or quail.  The quail run across the road in large groups, and then all together take off into the air, their wings making a loud swishing noise as they go.

It's amazing how much the wide open spaces in the country soothes the soul.  I didn't realize how accustomed I had already become to the countryside, until we had to head back into the city last weekend, and I was shocked by how crowded and busy it seems there now.  I was immune to that before.  I found myself cringing as I noticed with fresh eyes that there were cars, trucks, boats and trailers parked in front of most of the homes along our old neighborhood streets, making everything look so crowded and cluttered.  Traffic was noisy and everyone is so pushy.  I guess I'm moving at a slower pace now.

 Returning to our new home this week, I breathe deeply of the fresh country air and relax.