My Christmas tree

The Lyft driver asked me what my holiday plans were. I couldn't quite respond...yet

Yesterday morning my house was about fifty degrees. It's now been three months since my HVAC system blew out, and I am still waiting, so it's back to schlepping wood and kindling. I don't mind a bit, really.

This year, as a counterpoint to last year, I can actually walk up and down the stairs, carry the wood and not have to do it scooting on my butt. Now that's progress, and I really am grateful. For while my feet aren't done healing, I can walk, flat hike, bike and horse ride. Again, progress.

Oh my it's been a minute.

We're two weeks from Retail Heaven Day. This is my "tree," above.

Before I left for the press trip to Arizona, I piled all the piles of stuff into the middle of my dining room so that my handyman could get after painting the walls -that begins today.


I threw moving blankets over it, and this morning, in a pique of mixed humor and irritation at the gawd-awful mess that has been my house for a VERY long time, I turned that pile into a Christmas tree by balancing the one item I bought for the season, a Mexican angel, -on a chipped plate at the top.

The rest of my Christmas stuff is stuffed, as is just about everything, into boxes in the basement. Not coming out. Pretty clutter, but clutter, more work to put out, clean up, pack up, put away.

As if I haven't been doing that for years already. As much as I toss away or sell, I still seem to have much more than I need. Isn't that just the case, right?

Outside the local raccoon gang had trashed all my feeders, a reminder to bring them in when I head out for a while. One squirrel was eating the pricey seed and looking at me like,


I was so tired that I put the feeders off until yesterday morning. Usually I do the feeders before anything else, I am so focused on creating animal heaven around my house. And yes, boy howdy were the birds watching. As soon as I fixed all the damage, refilled all the suet and got the seed back out, it was Grand Central Station for bird life at my house.

Now that made me feel festive indeed. If I get nothing else out of living here, I am surrounded by happy, feeding, fighting birds of all kinds, the kind of lively natural setting I grew up with in Florida. I am so damned grateful for that, too.

What is the season supposed to look like? I can drive by anyone's house at night, see a lit tree and imagine all kinds of things that I don't have. And yet, it could be someone just as alone as I am, or someone whose wife or husband is in hospice care, or they are having a terrible fight in the kitchen.

We have no clue. I have no clue. But the season, as do holidays for so many, brings about the expectations we believe we have a right to have (who said, right?) during a given time.

Why are we supposed to feel a certain way during a certain time of year? Why do we feel badly if we don't or such expectations end up causing us to feel grief?

On one hand I have a lot to be so grateful for: I have a house, new opportunities just started opening up (we'll see if I get paid for anything, right?) and even if the house is a bloody mess, repairs are coming. Okay, someday.

My body continues to be a work in progress. I went riding most of the day last Wednesday, with one caveat: I crammed my tootsies into a pair of riding boots which used to fit perfectly.

Key words: used to. By the time I pried my poor feet out at day's end I had managed to cripple myself. The surgeries changed my feet forever and what fit then doesn't fit now. Life moves on, and I have to move with it.

Two steps forward, three back. I really truly underestimated what all this work would take. Along the way I've come to appreciate the body in brand new ways.

I came back from the press junket to Arizona with a gift: a large handful of eager contacts, people who think I might be able to help promote their soft adventure destinations to people close to our age.

Several of these folks are working to open the outdoors to all kinds of communities who previously haven't had access. I am all in on that. Grateful for that, too.

That's another article, but here's what came up for me: I spent my first twelve years in adventure travel all over the world. I miss part of that; not the part about coming home on a stretcher. I was gone too much to have a dog, and that needs to change.

So the USA-based soft adventures, the local trips and the opportunities to make a difference for communities which have been left out, all those are unwrapped Christmas presents this year.

And new friendships are building.

In other words, I see light coming. It's been a rough time, not without wonderful moments and a lot of hilarity, but honestly, a rough time- and plenty of people have it far rougher. That perspective allows me to pull on my workout pants, shove on the shoes and head to the gym.

Which is where I am headed. No scooter, no braces, no stitches, no walker, no....well, I still have plenty of pain, but at this point, by comparison, hell, this is easy.

There is so much good on the horizon, which is why I keep hunting it.

Back in the saddle, literally and figuratively. I can't wait to see what's next.

The author at Tanque Verde Ranch, Arizona

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