Aging’s most daunting aspect, to my mind, is the changing of everything around one, so I looked for a place that wouldn't change much. Though I’ve personally changed quite a bit over the decades, sometimes on purpose and sometimes in spite of myself and even unconsciously, none of it is as startling and sometimes inconvenient as the cultural shifts, people who suddenly die, and changing material culture both built and natural.
Another welcome change is that the nuclear missile silo that was only a couple of miles to the east is on the closed list, though I don’t think it has been filled in yet.
A strange change that everyone ignores is the wind-farm within eyeshot to the north. It’s like a white forest of branchless trees. You need keen eyesight to see it in daytime, but at night it’s lit with red -- I suppose to warn airplanes -- and the first time I came back to Valier in the dark, came over the last ridge and saw the huge blood red splotch, I got a major adrenaline surge. It was unearthly, like a landing field for flying saucers.
Circling back to the beginning, my two out-buildings, temporary structures trucked in from use when Swift Dam was rebuilt after the 1964 flood, were never on the list and have remained an unfulfilled opportunity. I’ve thought of a wood yard in the larger one: buy lodgepole pine, sell it cut. Or maybe a cement stepping stone factory -- write poems on the stones. Imprint them with leaves or footprints. The smaller structure was once my “bunkhouse” meant to compensate for making the back bedroom into an office, but it was not what my middle-class relatives and friends expected in the way of accommodation. Anyway, like me, they all have to pee in the middle of the night and that means staggering into the house over rough terrain. So -- not on the list and therefore requiring more thought.
Of course, if you know what a milking stool looks like -- a sort of unipod like one of those English sticks that has a little sling at the top to rest a lower cheek on, but much more rustic and improvised -- then writing is the one last vital leg. Maybe not. When that’s gone, I’ll shift to reading. The Great Cow of Thought that sustains me appears to be inexhaustible. It jumps over the moon and supplies the Milky Way. I can see the Milky Way from my backyard, you know, in spite of all the night lights and street lights. They were not on my list. I would put the lack of them on a new list.