Cottage Living and Moving to the Mountains

Anyway re: Fresno. Just to clear this up. Here’s what I’ve learned. It has lovely, old, tree-shaded neighborhoods, a beautiful Art-Deco Library, some great restaurants, a wonderful film series at a cool, nineteen-thirties movie palace, and a fantastic bunch of lefties at KPFK and Fresno Folklore Society and a fabulous creative writing program at Fresno State.

Fresno farmer's marketBelieve it or not, Fresno has a Whole Foods, a French pastry shop with croissants and brioche, a Trader Joe’s and a beautiful Farmer’s Market under a shady arbor. Now, I ask you where does Pioneer Woman shop? Somewhere in the middle of Oklahoma! And she wrote a whole cookbook. A best selling cookbook.

But, I digress.

Once Woolsey got to working on the foreman’s cabin, the problems we faced started to mount. First, we had to take down all the walls, then we had to pull up the floor. Next, we had to pour a new slab and spray the be-jezus out of the place for termites. And the fireplace—the one that had been hand laid with granite rocks from the National Park and the only thing in the house we decided to keep— was useless. Woolsey had to lie on his back inside the fireplace and chip away at the rocks up the chimney with a hand held jackhammer just so we could get a new flue in there and make it fire safe

Now fast forward a couple of years

Last evening we had a spring snow. From where I sat on my comfy sofa, I could see the firelight and look out the windows on either side of the stone fireplace at the big, flat snowflakes falling all around, sticking to the branches of the walnut tree and covering the early blooming daffodils. I had a soup bubbling on the stove—an old forties Wedgewood that I polish like a vintage Chevy— and bread in the oven. I don’t know what other peoples’ dreams are, but this is mine. Coziness.

Pioneer Woman says hers is the story of an accidental country girl. I’d have to say mine is the story of an intentional country girl. I always intended to do this. Still, the many accidents along the way have, like all things tinged with grace, startled me into gratitude. A night doesn’t go by that I don’t lie in the dark listening to the frogs or the crickets or the occasional coyote and say to the Great Spirit, Thank you for all this.

What about you? I guess I’d like to know what other people are doing at this stage in their lives. I wonder what you all had to give up to move into another phase. It’s not always easy, is it? What were the hardest parts and the best? I hope you’ll write and tell me.

Read Part 1 of this article

2 responses to “Cottage Living and Moving to the Mountains”

  1. I read your bit about Fresno. I am fast becoming an advocate for a much under-rated part of the state. As consumers, we are not at all willing to honor an area that supplies large quantities of produce to the nation. As you mentioned, Fresno can offer culture to those who are interested, including an art museum with an amazing number of Mexican prints and an impressive collection of ancient Mexican artifacts. Their shows tend to highlight modern and post-modern California artists. Final big plus for Fresno over Southern CA or Bay Area is traffic. Having gotten used to decent traffic patterns in Fresno, I hate going to the extremely congested, stop and go freeways of the Bay Area. I think I am becoming a convert.

    • Hey Julie, I totally agree about the art museum, and don’t forget Fresno State’s wonderful creative writing program and the reading series they offer.
      I’ve been very impressed with the quality of cultural events I’ve attended in Fresno. Even though I live about 50 miles up the mountain from the city, it takes less time to get into town to see a film or enjoy a dinner out (and yes, there are some great restaurants in Fresno) than it took to get into the city from my house in Berkeley. Besides when I get to wherever I’m going in Fresno, I can park. Free! Unbelievable!