“Are you writing down these stories?” my dad asks from across the country, laughing as I tell him about Liz’s rescue mission a few weeks ago and how Susie introduced it to me. “Don’t ever listen to my directions,” she said over the first meal we ate together.

There are stories but there are a lot of simple sentences too: Walking through grass brings a steady fear of rattlesnakes. My hands are dirt-stained no matter how much I scrub them. Some sort of wild animal (or animals, perhaps a family) has moved into this trailer with me and refuses to be found despite attempts at night and in the day. There’s also a (recently discovered via berry-filled poop) skunk making its home near mine.

I’m settling into a routine. Wake up, peel off long underwear and wool socks to switch to jeans and a sweatshirt. Oatmeal for breakfast, weed the beds for a few hours, take a break for lunch. Plant lettuce. Put straw around the tomatoes. Take a break to call my parents. It’s one of the loveliest parts of my day, grounding me even though they are so far away. I tell them about the pieces I’m putting together and how chilly it’s been at night and about Liz, the last WWOOFer here who slid down a mountain during a hike and had to be rescued by the local fire department. It turned out fine, or my dad wouldn’t have been laughing.

I’m still honeymooning here, still feeling the magic sharply. From the windows of my trailer I can see the sun set, watching the colors change as it disappears entirely over the ridges in the distance. The redwoods are humbly silhouetted. I sleep under a strand of golden paper cranes, hanging from the cabinet door when I got here, and a ton of blankets. I’m ready for bed when it’s dark, when the orange of the sunset has faded completely. Fear of anything at night (or in the day for that matter) has no use here; there is no one to run to, and almost everyone I know to call is already asleep.

But rattlesnakes and new trailer-mates and fear of the darkness aside, it’s really, really lovely. Cherries, boysenberries and raspberries are all in season right now. The tomatoes have tiny green fruits on them already! And the goats, while not expecting imminently, are pregnant and growing, hopefully delivering before I leave… more details to come on that.

It is quiet and soft and lonely in a good way, for now. I am in the right place. When I finally kick the incessant pop songs out of my head, I’ve been doing some pretty good thinking. But what resounds for now, just a week into this, everything so new and clear and wow, is that I am deeply content, happy in a core way. Happy to use my hands and be simple and have little to think about besides the weeds growing beneath the tomato plants.

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