From the Flatlands to the Mountains

She woke up late, after the sun has risen. After moving her warmed feet from under her cats, who were still asleep at the foot of the bed, she sloppily pushed the scratchy, but warm, blankets off her and shuffled into the kitchen to prepare coffee. One cat jumped off the bed, and followed, as if he had been waiting all night for his morning feast.

The dishes from the night before were still in the sink, so she cleaned what would fit into the drying rack: a few coffee mugs, a large plastic cutting board ($2 thrift store find), three saucepans, and most of the silverware.

After choosing one of the newly-cleaned saucepans, she filled it with water and placed it on the stove. Lighting the gas-flame was always enjoyable, because with one single match, she gave life to the gas, something she could not see, but could hear and smell.

While she waited for the water to boil, she poured a scoop of greasy, beautiful, coffee beans into her grinder and then put them in her french press. She had finally graduated from the electronic methods of making coffee. It was either pour-over, or press. She preferred press.

This morning was much like most mornings, except for one thing: she was leaving in three days. After 28 years in the Flatlands, it was time for her to move to the Mountains. She had heard of many do this, and even though she was not sure of her own ability, she knew she had to try.

The water began to hiss and bubble, so she turned off the heat. She learned from a friend at work not to pour boiling water into fresh coffee grinds, if she wanted to get the most from her beans.

After pressing the coffee, she realized she still had not yet fed her cat – so she poured some crunchy morsel into his dish, and into the second dish because now the other cat had awoken at the sound of the food bag. Prancing into the kitchen, the second cat immediately began to chow down.

While she let her coffee steep, she began reorganizing the kitchen table. It was a mess of things she needed to pack, but was not sure what box they should go in. A camera, recent bills, hot sauce, cookbooks, and some pine cones she collected in a trip to Portland.

Packing up her life was most eye-opening to her. She realized how much “stuff,” she really had. Half of her belongings, her books, (mostly her college books, medieval history books, books about geology, the obvious collection of Harry Potter books, and about 200 other random paperbacks) were going to her parents’ house. She divided her clothing up and was only taking winter clothing for now. Since she found a roommate, she was not taking any of her kitchen items.

She realized most of her stuff was non-crucial. The items she was taking were not easily replaced, or needed for the winter in the Mountains. Plus, all she had was a 4-door car, so space was limited, and the front seat was reserved for two cats.

Pouring herself a fresh cup of hot coffee, she felt something furry slither between her ankles, and looked down to see one of her cats offering a greeting of thanks for the morning meal. He then scampered away into an empty packing box.

In three days, she would pull away form the town she had lived in for the last 28 years. Why was she leaving The Flatlands? The Mountains offered her something else; something more.

She had heard of people leaving their comfortable jobs and lives for The Mountains. Many were from The Flatlands or from The Coastals. Many of them did not return. They grew their hair out, dressed in boots and plaid, and learned to make food from one or two ingredients, because they loved being in the backcountry of The Mountains so much, they were willing to learn to survive on little. However, their hearts were full and their souls glowed.

In three days, she would begin her very own pilgrimage. The hardest thing was going to be leaving behind her friends and family.

Her parents were nothing more than supportive, but also reminded her she could still stay if she wanted to.

Her friends were also supportive, but sadness often shadowed their faces when they began thinking of their friend who was leaving. She always told them not to be sad, but be happy. She told herself the same, when sadness began to creep into her mind.

The journey ahead was unknown. All she had was an inkling of who she now was. That mystical, magical person she once knew in her childhood was the guide for what she was about to embark upon.

We sailed away on a winter’s day

With fate as malleable as clay

But ships are fallible, I say

And the nautical, like all things, fades and I

Can recall our caravel:

A little wicker beetle shell

With four fine maste and lateen sails

Its bearings on Cair Paravel

Oh my love

Oh it was a funny little thing

To be the ones to’ve seen

The sight of bridges and balloons

Makes calm canaries irritable

They caw and claw all afternoon “Catenaries and dirigibles

Brace and buoy the living-room

A loom of metal, warp woof wimble”

And a thimblesworth of milky moon

Can touch hearts larger than a thimble

Oh my love

Oh it was a funny little thing

To be the ones to’ve seen

Oh my love

Oh it was a funny little thing

It was a funny funny little thing

– “Bridges & Balloons,” Joanna Newsom


Share on
Previous Post Next Post

You may also like

No Comments

Leave a Reply