Every so often some friends who live in a quiet, secluded gated community in Santa Barbara offer to let me stay in their place for several days or even a week or so while they are usually off on some wonderful trip somewhere. They like someone to stay at their place to dog-sit, so I owe these times to George, the bulldog. George is quite a character and he adds a lot to my visits which I briefly describe later.
Eagerly I say "yes", pack up myself with at least one of my own dogs* and head up the coast, looking forward to a time of solitude and reflection. And of course I plan to write and maybe work on some other creative projects. And oft-times, I succeed.
I find when I get settled in the quiet serenity of the place is mesmerizing. There are scads of things to do and see in Santa Barbara, but I always find myself wanted to cocoon in semi-isolation from an world that is at times too much with me. So I walk with George, or rather George walks me, and then I walk again for long meandering walks all around the area with Miguelito.
Occasionally I turn on the radio or TV, but usually I just savor the nothingness of no sounds other than birds chirping, bunnies rustling in the flora, the crickets and frogs by night. When I eat, I eat in silence, savoring each bite of food as if for the first time. A glass of wine thrills my pallet. I am enchanted with my own company.
Self-indulgence is me! Well, quite frankly, I don't care. I deserve it. I forget how much I like being with me. Of course my little dog is here. This time its Miguelito. He seems to enjoy being the chosen one. And of course, there is George. George is a presence and will not be denied attention. But even George is companionable with occasional fits of grunts, guttural groans, lickings and more, but he indeed is glad I am there. All is well with the world tonight and I will sleep soundly as George snores in the corner and Mig nestles in the bed with me.
It's now Saturday morning, final full day in my "reclusive retreat". It has been good. As usual it feels like the time has flown by while the days themselves seemed long and pleasant. A minor "crisis" at home brought me back to the realities of life. But the crisis was resolved with the aid of friends and neighbors. (The neighbor behind me demolished a portion of the little house that has been a "wall" to my backyard for probably over 50 years. Could have been much worse. And it will work out fine as these things always do.) Anyway, I was able to return to some sort of my temporary normal here in isolation of sorts.
The good thing is I got away, had plenty of time for rest and reflection. It is funny how in just seven days a routine was established. It began to feel like home, even temporary as it is. I've noticed that happens whenever I am away for a while. Its as if my real life is a distant memory that I could just leave behind. But I know in my heart, that is not what I want to do. With some adjustments, things will just be fine. While I like being with myself, I also enjoy being with others. As they say, though, moderation in everything is the key. "Moderation in everything...including moderation," said Ben Franklin. Amen to that.
*My great neighbors take care of my other dog and my house! Thanks be to them!
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