Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Word About the Heat

I’ve got to say a word about the heat. Yes I know, it’s hot everywhere; but from here . . . it’s all about me.

I picked two of the hottest days of the year to move out of my apartment and to load up the Airstream and the pickup: TRIPLE DIGITS in June, in wine country. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but I was also recovering from some elective surgery I had the week before. Nothing serious, but I had some gall stones and a small hernia repaired. Outcome: just a little tender and sore and not supposed to lift more than twenty pounds for two or three weeks. You get the picture: I’m hot and uncomfortable.

So, I got the apartment emptied and cleaned, loaded up the trailer and the truck, emptied out the garage, and moved a bunch of stuff into storage, all in 100 degrees plus. On the day I left, I headed toward the bay, then took I – 5 south toward Bakersfield. When I pulled into the RV Park at sunset it was still hot. I plugged in and turned on the air conditioner. The forty-year-old contraption rattled, and roared into life. I thought, “God is good.”

Next day, I cruised into Bakersfield and proceeded up those long rises heading east into the Mojave Desert; still hotter-n-hell. I kept a close watch on my temperature gage, frequently shutting off the truck’s air conditioner to keep the engine from overheating; snaking up the long climbs, in a slow-motion race with a hundred semi-trailer trucks. I got onto I-40 in Barstow, watching signs for old Route 66 all the way Williams, Arizona. Rising into Ponderosa Pine forest, I rolled down my windows to take in the scent of the monsoon I had just missed. I pulled into the Woody Mountain campground just outside of Flagstaff at sunset, and the air was cool and clean. God is still good.

My destination is Sedona. Yes, I know it’s in the desert, but I’m telling myself, “It’s High Desert.” Sitting at 5000 feet its average high temp in the summer is in the 80’s and 90’s; not so different from Sonoma County. However, if you didn’t know, the whole country (if not the planet) is having a bit of a heat spell. The ice caps are melting, the polar bears are dying, down the road in Phoenix they have 115 degrees with eggs frying on the sidewalk, and in Sedona . . . it’s Hot. No big deal, I planned for this. I pull into my spot, plug into the grid, and crank up the trusty air conditioner; it works.

Then, one morning just before the weekend, the 40-year-old monster has had enough. The fan blows hot air before noon, and every time the condenser tries to kick on it kicks off with a loud bang that makes me think I could damage the thing even more. The “Camping World” west of Flagstaff says they can look at the beast on Monday. I tell the voice on the phone, “It’s Hot down here. Can’t you look at it tomorrow?” The voice doesn’t feel my pain or my heat. I’m reluctant to blame global warming on God, and the Unity pastor here is telling me to live my life in perpetual gratitude. Okay. . . .

I make it through the weekend, and pull the Silver Bullet back up the mountain to Flagstaff. It takes two days to retrofit a new Dometic to replace the old Armstrong. I feel good about giving the old girl a shiny new accessory. We are back in our spot, under the cottonwoods and the awning is back out; I hung up the wind chime and the humming birds are circling the feeder. The new AC is humming, but I’ve got it on low because the heat spell has broken for now and there’s a breeze blowing through the park. Gratitude is easy today, and God is, well you know, she’s good.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


It's hard to know where to begin. It is strange to be starting my life over at 55. And the cause is not the fickle nature of the administrators at Napa High who were not sure they should risk granting tenure to this guy who didn't really act or speak like a teacher, and certainly didn't look like a "new" teacher; and the cause is not the economic downturn nor the failure of the state of California to provide for its schools; and the cause is not the bursting of the real estate bubble that lowered the value of the house in Healdsburg that had soaked up my sweat and blood for the past several years; and the cause is not the ending of a 20-year relationship with a woman I thought I would grow old(older) with.

It is just whining to blame one's situation on circumstances and environmental forces. I have been given a gift: an opportunity to reinvent myself. And I might never have taken this step if the universe had not kicked me in the butt.

So, still early in this journey, I am sitting in the falling light, in a grove of massive cottonwood trees, in spot #51 of the RV park, Bear Wallow Lane, Sedona, Arizona. There will be time to back up and show you how I got here. But for now, the air is still, even the many birds have stopped chirping, and if I can quiet the rest of me, I may have found enlightenment by sunrise.