B and I are in Montana this week, moving my lifelong possessions from
my cabin in Virginia City to Whidbey Island, Washington. I contracted Ray
Taylor to build this cabin for me back in 1979. He did a fantastic job on it
and it was my home base, and my heart, for 38 years. Much fun was had
here in that time, great people, good parties, a ton of music of all kinds. It
was a creative haven in the Rockies for many of us. We recorded 9 albums here.
So what happened? Well, the same thing that usually happens when a
paradise finally becomes not a paradise. Things change… and in this case
I mean damn near everything changed. The people changed, the access
to public lands changed (for the worse, with new fences and locked gates)
the fishing accesses along our rivers filled up with out of state cars carrying
fancy fishermen with so much gear they could barely waddle to the river.
The weather patterns changed, the wind began blowing nearly all the time
and the soft, beautiful Springs we knew when I was a child here were now
history, to be replaced by a fairly nasty muddy season that suddenly blasted
into hot summers around the 4th of July. Then fire smoke blew in ’til Labor Day.
At first I tried to ignore it, and when I finally accepted that it had indeed
changed, that much of the freedom of the outdoors was being taken from us
by people with a lot of money and absolutely no sense of the joy of living in
Montana in the first place… well. Naturally, I got pissed. Someone had moved
my cheese, right out from under my nose!
but I can’t blame all this on Montana… oh no. Somewhere along the way,
I got old. Getting wood, chopping it, carrying it stopped being fun around the
time I turned 67. I think I got my toes slightly frostbitten snowmobiling, and it
started getting harder to walk any distance. Warming up after being cold
became MUCH more difficult, and my window of comfort slowly shrank to
about 69 – 74 degrees. Pathetic, I know. But see, I changed, too! I hit the point
where I couldn’t do the Montana I’ve always loved so much… I lost my edge,
my tough, my resilience. And god, it hurts to admit that, but it’s true. Yes, my
cheese had moved, but I had moved, too… in the opposite direction.
Being a believer that when one door closes, another door opens, I shouldn’t
have been surprised when my Betty Ann walked through the new door. but I
was! The more I got to know her, the more I came to realize what an
exceptional person she is. At the time, she walked through that new door
smiling, with fresh crab and salmon! Suddenly my cheese wasn’t even worth
pursuing, as this new “crab and salmon” fantasy showed real promise! I
carefully entered the new door, and BAM! Along came a new life, a new love,
new family, new possibilities and a new lease on life.
How lucky was I to meet and fall in love with Betty? I can’t begin to measure
it. Let me put it this way… I have 4 or 5 friends who call every so often, and
one of the first questions they always ask me is, “Is she still letting you hang
around?” Or, “Hasn’t she dumped you yet??”
Betty Ann and I live together on Whidbey Island now, and life is sweet. But I
began missing my personal items… my books, my pictures, my tools in the
garage. So this year we decided to sell the cabin and get all my personals
moved over to the island. The cabin will sell at some point and the moving
will have to be done anyway. So now’s the time. I’m hoping that some of the
townsfolk will pick up some of my stuff and enjoy it the way I did when I was
younger. Some of my things simply belong in Virginia City, and here they will
stay, in one form or another.
It’s strange, to say the least, that when a place that has been dear to your heart
for your whole life suddenly isn’t. From the outside looking in, it appears a lot
like falling out of love. Who knows, maybe it is. But it usually comes on slowly
and there’s usually a reason or two for the fall, and some warning signs along
the way. I had multiple signs, but there were a lot of mixed signs too, as life
in Montana can be one hell of a good time, if you know good folk and have
a sense of adventure. The warning signs slowly took over… the chopping
wood, the cold, my getting old. It started to add up. I mean, even when you
aren’t sure what’s different in your daily life, if you’re not happy, there’s gonna
be the bittersweet smell of change in the air.
I wouldn’t say that we always need to be prepared to embrace change. But
there certainly seems to be an element of happiness for those of us able to
make that change from time to time. And being open to change doesn’t
necessarily always work… hell, it can backfire on us in a heartbeat sometimes.
I know. This change I’m making now, however, has already been road tested.
It’s a good change – the right change. We’ve all exhausted the possibilities of
a place, a job, a relationship… we’ve come to know when a thing is done,
when it’s run its course.
What B and I will miss are the good people here. We have a few fine friends,
precious friends, the kind it can take a lifetime to attain. We are so lucky…
these friends are so fun and inspirational to be with. We wish we could live
closer to them and see them every day. And that’s probably the element
that is the hardest part of moving. You can always get new stuff, but good friends?
I look around the cabin tonight… will I miss it? Sure. Such memories. Is it
making me sad? No. Am I rethinking this decision? No. If things were different,
could Betty Ann and I live here part time, in peace and comfort? No. I think
life has a mystical way of pointing us, guiding us to a better place if we keep
our eyes open and our hearts in balance. Life can be so damned complicated,
but it gets way simpler when we figure out the ebb and flow… when to move,
when to stay quiet and wait. The powers that be tell us, we simply have to