Evolution of a suburbanite

It’s that time of year.   Damp and cold…and beautiful.

I’ve never been a fan of winter, or rain, or cold, or wind.    But somehow up here in the Sierra Nevada Foothills it’s much less of an annoyance and burden and so much more the wonderful fabric of life in the foothills.

The ground is still wet from the rain a couple of days ago and the wind is blowing the final dead oak leaves and pine needles from the trees.  The air is bitingly crisp in the mornings only warming  up in the late afternoon, just in time for the sun to go down to repeat that daily cycle.

Once an opponent and vocal critic of cold, wet, and winter  in suburbia I’ve turned into a lover of winter here at the Golden K.  It’s interesting. but not surprising, how a major life change (like packing up 25 years of suburbia and moving to the mountains) can alter  one’s perspective.   Over the past two years I’ve learned to appreciate all the seasons as I sit back in awe of  Mother Nature and all the artistry she so willingly and boldly displays.

I’ve come to know that life is too short to waste six months waiting for Summer to return as I once did as a suburbanite.

So I embrace this season as I will the next, and the next after that.  At a point in life one becomes retrospective more often than when younger.  Perhaps now is one of those times for me.   I want to appreciate all the days, all the hours, and all the minutes.  Many will be far from perfect, some will be sad, and some will be glorious.  One thing that can be said for all of those minutes is they will pass by in just 60 seconds and then the next will come and go, and so on and so on.   If I sit through all those hundreds of thousands of minutes just waiting for the one’s I perceive as ideal I will wish my life away, not to mention missing so many wonderful things.

The Golden K has helped me to evolve personally and to appreciate even the smallest things that life has to offer.  Like 120 foot pines swaying in the wind.  Or seeing the joy and excitement in my oldest Golden Retriever’s eyes when I start up the tractor.  Or a family of turkeys walking nearby.  And other things like my dogs going out to do their business first thing in the morning and watching them with their noses pointed high and low to smell where all the nocturnal critters were the previous night.  Hearing my neighbors horses whinny, looking out to the night sky and full moon with my bride of 35 years in the freezing cold.  Waiting for the return of the black tail deer.

It’s times like these that I recall what Jonathan Larson pointed out so insightfully in the lyrics of a song from Rent, the iconic musical from the nineties:

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles
In laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life
So yeah – at this moment in time this is my romantic perspective of life at 3100 feet.
A moment at the Golden K
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Falling

Fall could be my favorite season if it wasn’t that Winter came right after. I’ve never been much of a fan of rain and cold which forces me to put on shoes and long pants.  Although I must say that last winter, our first at The Golden K, was magical with all the snow we received that transformed the red clay and mud into a winter wonderland.   So this Fall, as I walk around and enjoy this fabulous Indian Summer Northern California is getting,  I am truly enjoying Mother Nature’s display of the the Fall season.

So yes I’m learning to enjoy Fall.  The still and cooler air is a welcome change from  the hot dry summer air.  I smell the occasional waft of a wood fire in the early evenings when we are still outside.   The occasional sighting of a fawn venturing down from the hill with it’s mother doe onto our property puts a smile on my face. As I look about I have the satisfaction that my sweat during the Spring and Summer made the GK safe while maintaining it’s beauty.

But above all I have my romantic perspective of life at 3100 feet.

The Golden K in early Fall

The Golden K Dressed In White

I imagine that snow and ice is especially unwelcome when one has to dig out, drive to work, and cover every inch of their body including their face as a regular part of their daily routine.  I can only imagine because I have never lived in such a place.  Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and having lived their all my life until earlier this year, I didn’t experience any extreme weather elements.  The temperature was rarely below freezing, there was no real humidity to speak of, and never snow.

I realize that much of this country and others in the Northern Hemisphere get plenty to a lot of snow and that it’s not always a welcome element.   I’ve seen pictures of Syracuse, NY in the winter.  I’ve heard about Duluth MN in January.  Mother Nature is probably not any kinder in Grand Rapids MI and Quebec City in Canada during the winter months.  I would probably perish after a winter week in any of these cities.

So when the Golden K gets an inch or two of snow and it all melts by mid-afternoon can I really say, with a  straight face, to anyone who lives or has lived where snowfall is 60 or 70 inches per year, that it “snowed”?

We’ve had three days of snow this year which I understand is about average for our area up to this point in the season.  I feel very blessed to be living at the Golden K in the middle of a forest covered by pines, oaks, and cedar trees.  With each change of season so far (Summer, Fall, and now Winter) I appreciate a different type of beauty on display that I once only dreamed of waking up to each day.  This morning after several days of rain and one day of snow the sky is blue, the air is crisp, and leaves and pine needles are shimmering.

The snow day we had this past Thursday was magical to wake up to.  I didn’t have to dig out.  I didn’t have to bundle up. And I didn’t have to drive anywhere because I work mostly from home.  I know I am blessed because instead of digging out I was free to take a walk (OK I did bundle up a bit…) about the Golden K and explore the beauty with a romantic perspective of life at 3100 feet.

Mother Nature was very kind to us on this morning!

 

The Year Of The K

I don’t typically partake in reflection of the past year as the new year approaches but this year has been like no other. It has been the year of the K.

Packing up 34 years of suburbia and moving to a rural area was a truly life changing event for Holly and I. This journey started in September of 2015 when “just for fun” I began looking on the internet at homes for sale in the foothills.  One of the first I saw  was a five acre property in Tuolumne CA.  It seemed to call to me and Holly agreed that it looked wonderful but she was not keen on moving; at least not for several years.

A few weeks later we drove up to see the property “just for fun”.  Over the following weeks and countless discussions about the possibility and rationale for moving  the “just for fun” became serious and we decided to look at more properties.  We saw several that we liked but none met the beauty, charm, and rustic elegance of what was to become The Golden K. We made an offer in November and closed escrow in December, just over a year ago.

Wow! What in September were only musings about one day moving to a simpler life in the mountains became reality just four months later in.  It’s one example of many over the past 34 years of Holly and I aligning on a goal and making it a reality.

The sellers rented back from us through April which gave us time to sell our home in Livermore and for Holly to finish her school year as a teacher.  In early May while still living in Livermore we brought a nine week old Golden Retriever home that we named Kloe, with a K or course like her big step sister Kali with a K.

That was all the inspiration I needed. I then knew we were moving “home” to The Golden K.  We moved in full time over Memorial weekend and we never looked back.

So here we the four of us: a guy and a gal still desperately in love after 34 years of marriage, two beautiful and loving Golden Retrievers, and one shared romantic perspective of life at 3100 feet.

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They’re Cutting Down Trees

It’s coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
I wish I had a river I could skate away on

 – © 1970; Joni Mitchell

Last weekend Holly and I went to  a local nursery looking for a live Christmas tree.  What was available was scrawny and very expensive.  Then Holly and I came to our senses and remembered that we live on five acres full of trees.  We laughed just a little at ourselves.

By the time we arrived back home at the Golden K it was pouring down rain but we were determined to establish a new tradition of cutting down a Christmas tree from our own property.  So we put on the best rainproof-cutting-down-Chistmas Tree-gear that we had and headed up the hill to the back side of the Golden K.  Back in the days before we went artificial and when we still put up “real”  trees we always had pines.  It wasn’t likely that we would find a pine small enough so we were hunting for a Cedar.

It didn’t take us too long to find a tree that was suitable.  It was a very nicely shaped Cedar about 12 feet high.  We carried it to the shop, cut it down to about seven feet and carried it back to the house.

It felt a little bit like when your kids are little and they cook a meal for themselves.  They eat the meal as if it was the best food they ever tasted because of the gratification of having cooked it themselves.  As we looked at our tree we both felt as though it was the most beautiful tree we have ever had in our 34 years of marriage.  I guess because we “cooked it” ourselves…

So like Joni sang, “they’re cutting down trees” at the Golden K and they are in love and they are grateful.  And if that’s not a romantic perspective of life at 3100 feet I don’t know what is.

First Christmas at the Golden K

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Golden Blessings

The Golden K has been truly golden this past week.  The change in seasons is increasingly evident in the cool mornings and evenings, the early setting sun, and strikingly in the color of the leaves.  Especially those leaves from the Black Oaks that periodically rain yellow and orange leaves from the sky and onto, well, onto everything.

Each season this first year at the GK is new for us.  Summer was wonderful, and now Autumn is simply beautiful.  The warm temps in the mid seventies this past week is to some degree guilt free since we’ve had a considerable amount of rain – much higher than normal – at this point in the season.  We continue to pray for a very wet winter but meanwhile are truly loving the goldeness of the Golden K.

During an early afternoon walk around the property I was taken back by the beauty of this day and season and stopped to take a few photos while feeling truly grateful for the golden blessings we have up here on the hill.