Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Season of Altered Reality

Fifteen years of trekking to Palm Springs has produced a humanistic cauldron of changing venues and evolving life styles for my wife and me. Yet through this gradual evolution from several visits per year to seasonal occupation there was always a comfortable continuity to life here. Desert living had become a comfortable alternative to winters sequestered in Minnesota. There was comfort in continuity…until now.

Not a lot of folks have the opportunity to flit back and forth between two distinctive life styles, renewing acquaintances with friends from around the country and enjoying two distinct and different environments as the seasons ebb and flow. So complaining about a less than perfect season might sound more than a little disingenuous to the average person. I get it and I agree.

There really doesn’t seem to be a lot to complain about when one’s fractured season is less than most others could hope for. But this season wasn’t like all the others and while I’m not complaining…just explaining… the reality is that the old cliché about nothing ever stays the same played out this season like a bad hand of cards.

Our kids and grandkids were out here for Thanksgiving. It’s always fun, exciting, intense and fulfilling when they’re here. Did I also mention exhausting? But after they left things started to go south as compared to other seasons.

Unlike past seasons where familiar routines fell into place and the old organizations remained stoic and unmoved, this year it was different. The Writers Niche, a very comfortable collection of fellow writers who met twice a month, had been disbanded. My friend who was teaching a writing class in town decided to fold up shop. The Palm Springs Writers Guild hadn’t found anyone to spearhead the Desert Writers Expo this year so that also died a quiet death. Writing became a solitary exercise except for the occasional coffee-up with some fellow writers.

Sharon’s mom had passed away three weeks before we left for Palm Springs. Then a friend who had been sick with a terminal illness passed away in November. Shortly after that a family member unexpectedly passed away. We went back to Minnesota early and stayed longer than expected.

The changes, some subtle, some overt continued. Balloon wrangling for the annual Christmas lights parade turned out to be an exercise in exhaustion with an over-active team leader. Our gym downtown had closed and we were forced to find other accommodations. The weather all season was about ten degrees cooler than normal. My plans to hike the Lykken Trail and then graduate to harder climbs was derailed by leg injuries and other commitments. We weren’t able to go on the Desert Horticultural Tour this year nor the Walk of the Inns.

Remodeling projects around the house produced a chorus of weekly chaos that disrupted my normal writing routine. A new HVAC system installed in the middle of winter produced some chilly nights.

Overall it was par for the course. It was a season of change, of a cessation of changing venues and evolving priorities on the part of other people, institutions and events. Yet despite the challenges of a disruptive work schedule I/we managed to find some semblance of order in the chaos.

I started to bike to the Saguaro Hotel to work out in their gym. I discovered several new trails to hike and found a new spot to meditate in the mountains. My renewed attempts at play writing seemed to find success back home. ‘Apache Death Wind;’ a trilogy was published. ‘Debris; a trilogy was being edited.

We got to tour some new spots in the area like Salvation Mountain, Slab City, and San Juan Capistrano and along the Pacific Coast Highway. We visited the Annenberg estate and took a windmill tour. We sought and found a new semblance of order in that chaos of change and the façade of Palm Springs forced us to look anew at our lives there.

A season of altered reality produced a new perspective for life in the desert. It also reminded me of just how lucky we are to live the life we do.

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