There was a time when a trip to LA was routine, but now it feels like going to Timbuktu

There was a time when a trip to LA was routine, but now it feels like going to Timbuktu. My daughter, who flies freely out of the nest like the young bird she is, laughs at her old home bound mother who feels like she’s going to the outskirts of Africa. But the very thought of leaving the valley even for only three days makes me realize how much I love my life here.

So to fortify myself for my noontime departure, I stood waiting at 8 a.m. with another early bird customer for the doors to open at Farmer & the Cook. By 8:06 we grew impatient and I pressed my face against the glass to get a better look at the young workers bustling about inside. One finally noticed us and she opened the door–only to let it slam shut again, saying, “It’s already unlocked.” Say what? I tried turning the knob again—but from the outside it was still locked. I tapped on the glass and she let us in.

Yesterday was a watery cleansing day. Today is the opposite. I bought a savory scone, an apple date muffin, and a pumpkin seed muffin. The child in me wanted a chunk of carrot cake but I ignored her. Then the dogs and I headed for the river bed. The fog was just beginning to lift. Honey ran way up ahead, while Chico and I sat on a giant flat boulder to savor the savory scone. I gave him a crumb at a time—he never took his unblinking Chihuahua eyes off that savory scone. By the time Honey noticed what we were up to, it was almost gone.

Somehow knowing I won’t be back for three days made the early morning jaunt even sweeter. When the sun burst through I had the thought again that when my time comes to pass, I want the last thing I feel to be the sunlight on my face. The other day I had lunch with a high school friend and in the course of the conversation he mentioned how he’d recently had a heart attack. And, classic male, he ignored the symptoms. If it wasn’t for his wife’s insistence that he go get the “uncomfortable feeling” checked out, he’d likely be dead. He said something I’ve heard many people who’ve had a brush with death say. When he became aware that he might very well die, “it was no big deal.” He was surprised how calm he felt.

The dogs and I wandered a little further down the river bed and then we shared the two muffins . . . I always spoil my animals a little more before leaving town. The sun grew hotter, and we turned around. Soon I’ll be in carmageddon, hurtling 70 MPH down the noisy freeway, but the deep stillness of the river bottom, the timeless beauty of the surrounding mountains will be with me. I hope I never take for granted how lucky I am to live here in the Valley of the Moon!

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