Six years ago yesterday we moved into our house from the Bay Area. We left behind traffic, the SFO flight path over our condo, the sound of car doors slamming early in the morning and late at night, the click-clack of high heels on concrete that used to wake us at O-Dark-30 every day, and emergency sirens rushing down our street any time of the day or night.
We left behind hour-long commutes on Highway 101, going from just one exit to the next one -- Tony's Oracle commute (Hillsdale to Redwood Shores). Cars zipping in and out of traffic lanes any time of the day or night. Crushes of people in most stores and long waits if you wanted to go out to eat on Friday nights.
We got quiet....except for deer hooves on grass, the mournful howls of the nearby coyotes or the yip-yip-yip of the pups. The occasional whinny of a neighbor's horse, or in the early morning, the wake-up call of a rooster in the distance.
Only rarely, when the wind is in the right direction, can we hear a train sounding at the crossings in town.
Nowadays we might hear a cat yowl or hissing skirmish outside our windows -- when we first came, we had no cats.
We got sky and trees and wind and rocks and lots of red earth. We got gravel and dirt roads not far from the paved roads in town, and traffic jams that are maybe 10 cars long during what passes for "rush" hour.
We got freedom to structure our days and lives more to our liking. For more than four years we got to spend our time together, pretty much 24/7. That changed in August 2007 when Tony went back to a "butt-time" job, but it's still better.
We got friends and neighbors who we know and love. We got to be involved in community activities and develop our creativity and imagination. We traded supermarket produce, at least several months out of the year, for our own, just-picked tomatoes and spinach and green beans and lettuce and peas and more. We see stars polka-dotting the dark sky every night, and often sit out on our porch swing and watch them. We see meteor showers.
It was not an even trade, going from the Bay Area to Red Bluff.
We got so, so much more than what we left.
And we are grateful every single day.