So, it’s happening. I’m slowly going stir-crazy. The canopy of the thick woods which surround the beautiful home we’re living in near Lindstrom have leafed out completely, obliterating much of the day’s sunshine and light, and much of my good mood and optimism. I have the pleasure and pain of working out of an office in my home. My husband’s long commute and lately, long working hours have left me alone for a good 10-14 hours/day. Sounds like paradise, right? What’s the problem? Most people only dream of the hours of undistracted time that face me every day. “Why, if that were me,” (the voice in my head perks up, which, for some unknown reason, has a high, lilting southern accent,) “I would finish up those chores that can never get done when the kids and spouse are around, complicating the schedule. I would start a new hobby, or several! I would exercise every day! I would cook meals from scratch, sew my own clothes, start a business, watch TiVo for hours on hours uninterrupted!” Yes – you probably would. The first day. Maybe even the first week. And then, heading into that second week, Monday morning around 8am when you hear the garage door close and you watch your husband’s vehicle pull out of the driveway on his way to work, knowing you will likely not have a verbal dialogue with another human being for at least 13 hours from this moment, you start to feel just a wee little bit depressed. Yes, I have my work ahead of me, more than I can get done in the 10-hour day at my computer. I am thankful the phone does not ring off the hook like at my last job. But some days, I wish it would ring at least once in awhile. In my job, I’m lucky if I get to hear a human voice on the phone once a week, during our weekly status calls. Many weeks the call gets bypassed in lieu of putting out more important fires. Sometimes I can go weeks on end without talking to anyone from my company’s home base in Austin, TX. And last year, I went 14 straight months without seeing anyone in the business – not a coworker, not a boss, not a client or a prospect. Nobody but my own small family, day after day after week after month through the longest, coldest, darkest MN winter I can remember. Self-acclaimed introvert that I am, even that was too much “alone time” for this chick. Thank goodness I have the farm just 5 miles down the road to visit. Regular chats with Betty at Spirit Song Alpacas definitely keep me saner. Even scooping up the dung piles is enjoyable when you can do it with a friend. And the alpacas, well, they certainly help my sanity. I have found it nearly impossible to be sad or lonely or angry or depressed around those critters. I absolutely love being around them. But sometimes I can’t get to the farm. And sometimes the green cave of leafy jungle surrounding the house gets just a little bit too oppressive to stay home. When my calls to Austin go unanswered and I am about to lose it if I don’t have some kind of human interaction, then it’s time to head into town. So around 6:00pm tonight, I jump onto my 25-year-old Sekini 10-speed (or should I say 5-speed, since I only use one of the chainwheels) and head down the driveway. I realize as I reach the cul-de-sac that I forgot my camera in the house. Yesterday I forgot my camera when I headed into town to the bank. I was driving along a frontage road near a pond and passed two Canada Goose families with their goslings, right by the roadside, well within camera range, fuzzy yellow backs taunting my empty camera hand. Not about to make that mistake again, I backtrack to the house to retrieve it. I am not disappointed. About half a mile from my house I pass an elk farm. There is one bull elk in the front pasture, who rarely comes close enough to the front fence to even attempt a photo. But as luck would have it tonight, he’s standing near the fence line, the evening sun backlighting the velvet on his antlers. He is so beautiful he takes my breath away. I try not to disturb him as I approach the fence, stopping only long enough to snap a couple of pictures and walk quietly away again. Soon I am happily making my way through the town of Lindstrom, looking for the Lions Park. I may not know anyone out here tonight, but by gosh, even being in a crowd of people who are not actually interacting with me has a charm of its own. Especially when the crowd is happily ensconced in folding camp chairs, enjoying the Taste of Lindstrom event (munching on local cuisine from Lindstrom food vendors) and eagerly awaiting the start of the Wed. night Harmony in the Park concert, a special treat tonight featuring the Elvis Experience, a performance by Elvis look-alike (and sound-alike!) Steve Marcio. I wander the grounds awhile, snapping photos (is it still called “snapping” when it’s a digital camera?) and enjoying the antics of small children and dogs, young people and old, all milling around staking out the best seats to watch the show, which hasn’t started yet. I cross the covered bridge and locate a park bench which seems to offer a decent view, and since I did not pack along my own camp chair, a nice spot to rest a bit after all of the biking. The introductory music begins and then Steve/Elvis comes to the stage as the crowd claps and hoots.
Click below for a 50-second video of Elvis performing “It’s Now or Never.”
After a few songs it’s time to head back home again. There are still things to do when I get back to the house. Critters to feed, bread to mix up and start to rising, clothes to take off the drying racks (ok, so maybe I still do a few things from scratch here and there), pictures to download onto my computer, a blog story to start fleshing out. The bike speeds along nearly effortlessly on the short ride home. I notice the sun streaking through the clouds, and enjoy the cool wind on my face and the perfect temperature. There are no bugs even. The elk have all retreated to the back fence line of their respective pastures, far beyond the reach of my small telephoto lens. The fields and fences rush by and in a blink, I am turning back onto my street and passing up the long leafy, canopied driveway to my house. The light is softly filtering through the trees behind the house; the sun is close to setting now. The frogs chirrup from the nearby swamps, a sound that will come through the open windows of my bedroom tonight, lulling me to sleep. And I, for a few hours tonight anyway, am no longer a caged tiger in this beautiful lush green jungle. I am just a Country Gal, the restlessness from earlier today spent along the roadside as the miles flew by, buoyed by memories of the elk and the sunshine, of crowds, songs and laughter. I am home again, and I am at peace.