Living right now in a strange drafty house in the Rogue River valley, three miles from the interstate. Tiny old cabin with a larger house glommed on later; tiny old cabin walled off, turned into the garage, tiny light-filled bedrooms below the attic closed up. Newer house with big drafty windows, ratty carpet, woodstove in the corner pumping out heat. The land in back rolls down to a creek, outbuildings melting into the earth- strange tall silo, woodshed, chickenhouse. Barn full of air and haybales. Open meadow gathering light, dew, the mist that rolls off the hills. Ticks in the wet grass, Himalayan blackberry at the edges. My dogs bounding like rabbits through the meadow, barking at nothing.
My housemates cook big pots of roadkill venison stew, eggs from the chickens, dumpstered cabbage. They drink wellwater and plum wine. They render badger fat and leach acorns. They listen to Beyoncé. They dress up in costumes. They accumulate jars.
Our house is a small wooden box glowing yellow; beyond our house is The Nature. Forest and mountains, going away in every direction. I walk to the forest, I run there in the rain, uphill. I ride my bike to town; I can hike to the ocean. I can learn to know the oak trees, the madrones, the strange rivers. I can stare at maps until I begin to conceptualize the valleys and folds of this place. And there are the things that are familiar- the doug-firs, the sword ferns, the Oregon grape. Everything all mixed up, in this edge-place between the wet and the dry.
At night I sleep in a big bed with my dogs like satellites around me, little donuts of heat to keep the ghosts away. At night there is a quiet so large you can almost hear it, a rushing sound in your ears. At night there is the Milky Way. At night I cough; I picked up a respiratory infection the last two weeks in Portland in my trailer and I can’t seem to kick it. No more moldy trailers for me. No no no no no.
At night the sadness begins to leave me. In the mornings, when I walk my dogs out to the meadow behind the house and watch the mist roll off the hills, the sadness begins to leave me. In the evenings, when I sit with my new friends around the woodstove, watching the bright fire and saying nothing, the sadness begins to leave me. Something is beginning to sift down into the hole that’s in my heart, the hole that the city could never fill. The hole that was created by the PCT, that space for something I never knew I wanted, that space for something I never knew enough to miss. Each day the hole grows less empty; each day I feel less like an echo chamber, like a person who fell through the wardrobe from narnia to a land devoid of meaning. Each day there is more meaning.