Last September, Tom and I sold our behemoth place--a place with land, and lots of square footage, and a big barn and (good lord) a tennis court. We bought a little tiny house and the end of a little tiny road. We also have a little tiny mortgage. I look out the kitchen door, and there is a trail right into the woods just two steps away. Our house got smaller and our world became huge. Travel opportunities abound, there's more time to explore and ride, and contribute. This house seems almost like the coziest of luxury campsites. A shelter in the midst of this glorious neighborhood.
As I work on a new way of earning a living, I get to spend a lot of time finding my way around in this new landscape. We both try not to drive very often. The bus stops less than a mile from here, and groceries, beer, and friends are a bike ride away. And though I've lived in this town for almost 15 years, I swear, I find something new every day.
Merrin took me up Chest Heave Gulch the other day. It's just just up the road, right here in my new backyard. I've ridden down parts of it, but never up the whole thing. Up is the key word. And ridden is said with air quotations. I pushed my bike. A lot.
Almost two hours to get to the place where, as Merrin said, "we have officially left the planet and are in the Shooting Stars." The meadow was ablaze with them, and I was agog. Shooting Stars look like little pink orchid flowers and I've never ridden though so many of them before. There was also Paintbrush, and Ninebark, Columbine galore, and Golden Banner. Golden Banner makes me sing that Golden Grahams song and it played through my head all the way down The Very Much a Secret Trail That Sadly, Isn't Much of a Secret Trail Any Longer that leads back to home.
I usually prefer to ride alone. I like to follow what I think might be a trail or what looks like it used to be a trail, or where I think that maybe I see faint tracks and hope that I find some glorious single track that for that day, is mine and mine alone. Tom said that if I die before him, he's going to carve "I wonder where this goes" on my headstone.
I followed one of these hey-that-kind-of-looks-like-a-trail trails a few months ago in the half forest service half mining claims land across the road. It led to a whole bunch of gravity pits that someone had forged in a linked trail of old mining test holes. I don't skateboard, but when I'm zooming up and down and around these old test pits, I think that must be what it feels like.
I didn't "discover" it, but I found it on my own and I only showed Tom, and we've never seen anyone else on it, so I feel very Sacajawea about it.
Yesterday, on the Galaxy Ride, which is what I now call the best loop ever and the one that Merrin and I did when we swooped through the stars, I was grateful for the company. We started out late in the afternoon and we hit the view just as the light changed to what I like to call Porch Light-- the kind of light that happens on summer evenings when you're out on your porch. That view needed sharing. It was the best ride I've had yet this summer. Thank you, Merrin.