Vince the Handyman came by yesterday to talk about all the ongoing loose ends and concerns with the house and property. They are numerous. But I’ve come a long way from that first night, arriving at 11pm, the movers asleep in their truck in the driveway. After I settled up with them and came in to this dark and strange house, I was exhausted and alone and exhilirated. And a little scared.

I want to reflect and report on those first 100 days, and look ahead to new seasons and experiences here. So much to discover. For example, what are these strange bee/fly hybrids that follow me around when I wash my hair?

New start on Mondays. I always feel that way. Our country in turmoil with the rabid, deluded Trump base whipped up and certain that the election has been stolen, ready to fight, and praised for their violent, seditious insurrection. Congress doing what it must, churning though the procedures as quickly as they can, and of course COVID COVID COVID, especially in California, and here I sit on my 5 acres, far from the action, far from the crowds, tuned in and watching, aghast.

Yet the beauty of the day surrounds me, and I cannot resist this happiness. Downstairs, two workers — Ibrahim and Phil — are unloading my flooring and laughing the way working friends do. I remember laughing like that with my colleagues when we were teaching, planning, grading, dealing with administrative tasks, and bitching, always bitching about all of the unpaid labor we performed to prepare and assess the work of our teenagers. Most in the trenches of English departments work with 150-175 teenagers each and every day. That’s a lot of kids, folks. Ten percent of them — so sweet and clever and on-point that you want to bake them a pie or thrust a copy of your favorite novel into their hands, knowing full well you’d likely never see that book again. Another ten percent that you’d love to launch into space somehow. And that nice wide middle — a broad swath of humanity. Lovely. I learned so much about loving people *as they are* by being in a California public school classroom for 180-days of the year with 16-, 17- and 18-year old human beings.

I miss that camaraderie (“Fletch-Dog!”), but I cannot deny that this house, these five acres, situated here in my final decades, engage my mind and energies in new and surprising ways. What my colleagues are doing today in virtual classrooms is so unfamiliar and unappealing to me that sitting here, fewer than seven months out of the classroom, I feel impossibly ill-equipped to teach.

The only remotely academic thing I would ever want to do again is maybe establish a writers workshop, or maybe just write and share pages with friends. Which is sort of what I am doing here.

What I am grateful for in this moment: this awesome, sturdy patio table and chair on my deck that is really perfect for long-hand practice. I do better as a writer when I put pen to paper. I am more engaged, less detached; the words in my head don’t feel so pushed around as when they are flying through my fingertips on a key board. Sitting here, I am aware of my breath; my feet feel settled, flat on the ground. I used to tell my students that writing is a physical activity, and it’s true. I send awareness to my shoulders, my back, the balance of my weight on my seat. I’m outside, so I hear birds, so many calls and snippets of avian conversation, mostly unfamiliar. A cow lows in the distance. Who around here has a cow? I haven’t seen it yet. And always, a dog is barking.

Speaking of dogs, where is Pete? Last time I saw him, he was enthralled by a new green football with a loud squeaker that his mom bought for him.

I am inspired by Barack Obama’s habit of long-hand writing. Likewise Ross Gay, author of The Book of Delights, a book I am delighting in. Pen to paper. Screw the computer. Except, of course, I intend these words for, so I will type these words later tonight.

I’ve been sitting here long enough now though. Time to go drag leaves from one spot to another, and this will be my major task for the day; I will not finish. I like knowing that. Who cares? I don’t have to finish this today. Maddy created over 65 small leaf piles on my enormous green lawn, and they need to be piled up onto a tarp and dragged down to the burn pile. I *wish* I could send these leaves to Julie M’s kids — I saw them leaping into tiny, flat leaf piles on social media because they wanted the experience, but they lack the abundant organic material that comes with 91 trees. (Maddy cataloged the trees on the north half of the property. There are 91, and that’s not all. Ojala que she’ll tackle the south end on the next visit.)

Tomorrow, Ibrahim and Phil are going to start prepping the concrete downstairs and installing the floor; I’ll continue to work with Pete on his manners (“Down!”), and I’ll drag more leaves around. Maybe I’ll start scattering wildflower seeds around the perimeter of the property, and among the major granite boulder collections I have. There are three. I have always wanted to live with big rocks — so slow, and old, and quiet, and soaked with solar energy — and in this way too, my dreams are realized. When I feel cold and achey, I drape myself over a rock. Heaven.