The night is capacious. Moon shaped like a huge slice of watermelon hovers over the olive grove. The day is darkening, the olive trees are darkening into substantial shadows, green like a lake at night. I wonder where the coyotes are now. Are they curled together, tails and noses around each other, protective and embraced? Or are they stretching, keening for the prowl.
In my little 8’x12’ cabin, I sit on the bed, held by the silence. I have electricity because an electrical cord stretches from the house, where Kathleen, the orchard owner lives, and slides under my door. I don’t have a bathroom or a stove. I don’t have much, at least not right here, ready to hand. What I have is the sound of bird wings lifting and lowering near my roof. And the cats slink near the door; sometimes I hear them meow. And if I look up at the right time, I have the sight of deer, huge-eyed angels of evening.
What’s it like to live in an olive grove? That is what I want to write about in these blog posts. Well, we can distract ourselves here as well as anywhere, so in some ways living here is no different from living anywhere else. Up at the house there is internet and we can stream movies on Netflix, even if the slow connection means we get long intermissions. Like everyone else in the westernized world, we can stare at Facebook til the cows come home. But here, unlike so many places, sometimes cows actually do come to our home. And when the cows rumble up to the doorway, then we are called to look up from our screens and attend to the lives that could slip through our hands like sand if we’re not careful.
I want to say that I really did live on this olive grove while I was here. I want to have laid in bed and listened to mice skitter across the roof. I want to have studied the olives in their every stage. Right now they’re the size and color of peas, but olive-shaped. They are perfect. I want to notice the way the sun shines on the olive leaves, the way the sun shines on my skin.
In order to be this present to my days, I have to endure boredom, and dread, and the feeling that maybe I am missing out. You can’t flee boredom and fully sink into your life. They come hand-in-hand. I fear that I’m missing out on some party somewhere in the City, the dread that real life is elsewhere, not here. But this is real life, not really because it is any more special or more profound than any other life, but because it is a life stripped of so many distractions, a life that says listen. You don’t have forever. Be still and receive your one, precious life.