A page a day

Life on California's beautiful Central Coast

Little houses and life

One of the best moments of my year so far was a few months ago, at home in Santa Ynez. I was sleeping in the loft of a little cabin on the hill, and the sun came over the ridge and into the window, waking me up. It was very early in the morning, and I could hear little birds talking, and not much else. This is a quiet place, one where you can always hear yourself think.

I got out of the loft and went out to walk up the ridge, watching the sun come up and stretch languorously over the hillsides, drying the dewdrops off the sagebrush. I tried to imagine what my life would be like if I woke up every day in this tiny little house on the hill, with the long view down the valley. There would be much time for contemplation. I would go for very long runs, and write things. I would  be very zen, and probably tire of my own company.

When I came back from the walk my friends were waking up. We were all camping there together. The girls were up early; the boys were still asleep. Later there were breakfast burritos with eggs and potatoes, cooked on a camp stove. But before that, the endless possibility of the day – and frankly, of the rest of my life, felt as palpable as the dirt under my boots.

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote that “Home is the nicest word there is.” She lived in little houses all her life. There is something to the concept of total simplicity that has been pulling at my heart for awhile now, and I think I’m close to being able to put it into words. It has to do with that early morning feeling from that March day. Maybe it’s as simple as everything we need being the things we already have. It might be just a feeling, not a philosophy. I will keep thinking and listening until I puzzle it out.

Photo of the ridge walk by Will Etling.


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