I'm 72. For thirty-one years, since 1990, my wife and I have lived on ten non-easy-care acres in rural south Salem, Oregon.
Well, for the first few years we had five acres.
But when the lot next to us became available, we bought it -- not wanting to run the risk of someone cutting down beautiful large firs and building a house there.
I've been the one in our marriage who has been more eager to move to a house in town as we've gotten older and our property feels increasingly like a pain to maintain.
However... that one word says a lot. Because we're still here. For some good reasons.
Ten days ago I had hernia surgery.
Not being able to do most of my usual exercises and chores for a while, I've been going on an extra one mile nature walk in the early afternoon to supplement my usual two-mile hilly dog walk on a road in the late afternoon.
Being mildly depressed at the restrictions on what I used to be able to do during the six week surgery recovery period, I was pleasantly surprised at how much better I felt walking on our ten acres.
Nature is a great healer.
And I feel deeply fortunate to have such beautiful natural surroundings right outside our front door. My post-surgery walking through our property to Spring Lake, a nearby nine-acre community lake, has, at least for now, changed my attitude about wanting to move.
In case staying here at our age, and older (sadly, we won't be getting younger), ever comes to feel like a bad decision to my future self, I took some photos today of how my daily nature walk looks.
Here they are, along with some narration.
My walk starts from our back yard. This old oak, probably well over 200 years old, lost two large limbs in a February ice storm this year. But it's still alive and growing. The oak is a good friend who I'd miss a lot if we ever move.
I grew up in Three Rivers, California, which featured the Kaweah River running through it, fed by cold snow melt from the Sierra Nevadas near Sequoia National Park. So playing around in water was a big part of my youth. It's nice to see young'uns doing the same thing.
Walking around the lake back to the Evergreen Trail reveals a different perspective on Spring Lake. I believe the bright dot in the boat is an inflatable pink flamingo, but maybe this was just a flashback from my LSD days in college.
Speaking of our house, as I neared our home Laurel was working on the second row of three wood racks we got to hold a copious amount of oak logs that were split for us by workers who cleaned up tree damage near our house from the ice storm.
We also presciently had a large oak cut down in the dog yard behind Laurel, as it had branches overhanging our roof and side deck. There's a good chance some or all of it would have fallen on our house during the ice storm, so we felt good cutting it down, though it always hurts some to kill a tree.
Anyway, this was my walk today. Which will be my walk tomorrow, and the day after. The older I get, the more I appreciate the nature that surrounds us.
And by us, I don't mean just me and my wife. I mean everybody. We're just fortunate to be surrounded by more of nature than most people have nearby.
That's a big reason -- really the only reason -- why I won't be surprised if Laurel and I are still living here when we're much older than we are now. I used to wonder why old folks were so reluctant to leave their difficult-to-maintain homes.
The walk I went on today offers up a big reason why.