I am not a homesteader, but there are times I dream of living that frugal, self-sufficient life. I am not a world traveler, but there are times I yearn to live simply, lightly, as I hop around the globe. Just reading or saying the word “vagabond” stirs my soul. I am not living on a farm raising chickens, but I can fulfill that need by baking bread or growing herbs in my window. I may not be able to run off to the mountains and live in a tree, but I can go for long nature walks and come home with a bag full of acorns as I did today. I may not be travelling the globe, but I can explore my local nature spots, walk for hours just to see where I end up, and observe and photograph unusual spots.
Today the dog and I took a walk, leaving the apartment and crossing the grassy open space behind the dumpsters, passing two little ponds and following a busy road to the nearest new neighborhood. We entered the planned community and peeked into privacy fence enclosed back yards, one after another. Each large house has a tiny neatly cared for yard, but sometimes the backyards are truly inspired, with hammocks under shady trees and designed to give the feeling of a special and private retreat. Once the neighborhood was fully explored we retreated to the grassy edge of the busy road. We followed the road to a barely used dirt road that ends in the apartment’s property. I then take my dog off the leash and enter the woods, the nature trail.
On the same day that we explore these not so wild places my parents are hiking on a snowy day in Montana. They live in one of those wild places that allows every hike or walk to be spectacular. Most of us do not live in those places, and therefore we have to make our own adventures, adventures based on our own attitudes as much as location. One day on a stroll in this same neighborhood I saw a bald eagle flying overhead. I was in a very suburban location, but I was watching one of the most beautiful raptors soaring in the sky. The last time I saw a bald eagle was in Yellowstone, while visiting my parents.
The dog and I walk under live oaks, and I keep my eyes on the trail looking for healthy fresh acorns. I find them in bunches, and begin to fill my plastic bag. Everywhere I look there are acorns. Some are cracked, some have been partially eaten or have worm holes, but many of them are fresh and I collect nut after nut. A jogger passes by, and I wonder what she thinks about my activity. Soon I have plenty, but there is always two or three more, just beyond the last batch. I find acorn collecting to be addictive, like gem mining. I wonder if the squirrels are upset to see a well fed human snatching up their food supply. Sympathetic mosquitoes finally come out and chase me home. I drop a bag full of acorns onto my kitchen counter. Tomorrow I will try my hand at acorn pancakes. Sam Gribley, from the book “My Side of the Mountain” would be proud, I hope.