Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: rural life

Why I Get Up in the Morning: My Power is Out Edition

Bare toes poking out from a blanket on the couch.
Heat Exchangers

My Monday morning “Gratitude” post was going to be about waking up before dawn every morning, snuggling down into my corner of the couch, wrapped in a blanket. I’m the happiest girl in the world with a cup of coffee and my toes sticking out from under the blanket like a heat regulator.

The hours before the sun comes up are my most productive, reading-wise. I’m obsessed about it. I have my book, my journal, my glasses, and a pencil ready and waiting on my desk every morning so I don’t have to hunt for them. I regularly wake up thinking, “I could go back to sleep for thirty more minutes but…my book!”

This morning was the same until I looked out the window into the dark desert and saw a glint of white.

Desert snow

It DID snow! The weather report said there was a chance, but I’ve learned not to get my hopes up when it comes to weather predictions in the desert. A 20% chance of rain means nothing around here. Partly cloudy = one cloud drifting across the sky. But this morning, there it was, a fine layer of snow on the dirt everywhere I looked.

I snuggled down into my corner of the couch as usual and then, predictably, as the sun started to come up, the power went out.

…sigh…

That’s the fun of a more rural life. I’m not being sarcastic. It really is. We live just far enough outside the city to make things a bit fun but not too crazy. Dirt roads and driveways lend themselves to the rustic atmosphere but become interesting when it rains more than one day. Snow melting into the dirt and sand is different than snow pushed to the side of paved roads.

Desert snow.

Last night’s snow wasn’t much but when it does snow more than an inch or two the whole town shuts down for the day. It doesn’t happen every year, so we all sit back and enjoy it. The sun will come out and melt most of it away in a few hours. A few days later the wet will evaporate into the air or sink down into the sand. A week later green shoots of grass will show up everywhere and then dry out over the following month. Then we get to watch the rabbits come out to munch.

Snowy desert front yard.
Get out your snow shovels!

As I type, the sun is out, the sky is clear and blue, and there’s a beautiful light blanket of snow everywhere. My husband had begun to brew beer early this morning so when the power went out, he had to drag the generator out of the garage to continue. The wood burning fireplace still burns, but without the electric fan to move the heat around the room the dog and cat have parked themselves in front of it. My laptop works for now. My couch was in the recline position when the power failed and I had just finished brewing a pot of coffee, so I’m good for the morning at least.

The power is never out for long, so there’s no need to stress. It’s just a nice excuse to sit with one more cup of coffee…and my book!


Click over to “Why I Get Up in the Morning – Episode One” and read my first gratitude post. Six months and only fourteen posts? I thought this was going to be a weekly thing! I know…I’m working on consistency in many things. Remember?

These posts were inspired last year by Sagittarius Viking‘s Weekend Coffee Share posts. How did I find her? I don’t remember, but I am also a Sagittarius AND a Viking and I love her posts! Coincidence?!

Losing Touch With Our Symbols

I have a new skill. I can hear the difference between a male and female Great Horned Owl in the dark, and not have to hear them right next to each other. Listening to a female call to her mate in the dark this morning, I wondered about the symbols of Fall. Why do we put owls in our Halloween decorations along with ravens and crows, harvest symbols like corn stalks and pumpkins, and cool nights and big orange moons low on the horizon?

I grew up in the city, only going into rural areas on special occasions; camping weekends with my family or hiking with friends. We slept with our windows closed-up tight, the doors locked, and the air conditioning on. I woke up to an alarm clock inside a curtained room, rushed to get breakfast and my things to get to school and then work on time. I spent very few quiet days and nights.

Moving to the rural high desert of Southern California changed my life immediately in many ways, the first of which was an immediate slowing and quieting down. My city nerves, always twanging, never resting, continued to fire off even in the quiet desert atmosphere. Like…when you leave a concert or a bar after a long evening of dancing and drinking, you lay in bed, ears still ringing from the clamor of music and laughing. Or like when you finally get the cast taken off a broken limb and your skin, grown used to the constant touch and rubbing of the material, crawls for days with the cool air against it. Those neurons in my head were so used to hearing noise, seeing light, and reacting to stimulation, it took a long time for them to relax and quiet into my new surroundings.

A couple years into living here, I began to notice the changes in seasons. The feel of the air from one season to the next, the plants that changed, the animals that came and went. People say that Southern California has no seasons, but they’re wrong. They may not be garish and obvious, but they’re here. You simply have to be quiet and look closely.

In a house with large windows filling up almost every wall, you notice the light day and night. The sun coming up a little more and more to the north or south, and then back again. The moon changing each and every evening, sometimes you think a neighbor has a new unshaded porch light, so bright that you have to close your curtains to sleep. The stars change with the seasons! I didn’t know that until I lived here.

But the owls are what I love most. Summer gets hot here, as you probably know. By August, the swamp cooler runs all night and into the morning. The big fan sits on the roof pulling air from outside, through wet pads and into the house to cool us as we sleep comfortably. It feels marvelous but it is loud and monotonous. I know Fall is coming because the swamp cooler has been able to cool the house enough to shut off in the night, leaving the house quiet and still when I get up in the morning.

Fall has officially arrived when I can turn the swamp cooler off when I go to bed and open all the windows to let the cool, dry night air flow through the house as we go to sleep. Lying in bed, it’s quiet, so quiet that I can hear animals walking by outside my window, coyotes on the hunt. It’s an amazing feeling, but not half as amazing as what I hear in the morning.

I usually get up around 4am. Walking through my office, I pick up my journal, my book, my glasses (stupid aging eyes), and my phone. I stop by the kitchen for a glass of water and a cup of coffee and then on to my livingroom couch to settle in and read until the sun starts to lighten the sky.

Surrounded by my open windows, without the fans running, I can hear all the little things in the dark, including the owls. They seem to be most active at this time of day. Maybe they are just like us, it’s the end of their day, the kids are fed, Dad is home from work, Mom wants to talk about what went on and how she’s dealing with the neighborhood. The sun will be up soon, so they’re gathering the family together and settling down?

All I know is the noise that occasionally goes well into daylight hours and finally settles down as the sun begins to peek over the horizon. I hear the higher pitched female calls first and wonder what she’s saying. Then I hear the male return her call with his low WHO WHO from across the yard. As Fall moves on, I’ll hear strange screeching noises and more who-ing…it’s mating season and they’re calling each other to bed.

I could talk about owls all day, but I’ll leave you with this…what I originally was thinking when I started writing to you about owls. Why are owls a symbol of Fall? Because when we didn’t live in cities, when we were out on our farms and ranches, making our way in the world, when we sat in the dark making up stories about what was happening around us instead of watching them on Netflix, we heard the owls being sexy out there as Fall approached and associated them with the cooler nights and the shortened days. The spooky mating calls of a large night predator became a symbol of the coming winter and we incorporated them into our own stories and lives.

My culture perpetuated the symbol, but I had lost the meaning. Moving to the desert brought that richness back into my life. Nature, human and otherwise, remains constant. We may cover some parts up and lose track of the meanings for a while, but it’s still running underneath the surface, waiting to come up and reveal itself from time to time. We just need to keep our eyes open and look for it.

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