Kage Baker was an avid proponent of simply running away. Lighting out for the Territories. Hitting the road. She should have had a gypsy wagon or a boat at her disposal, for those moments when she looked down the long bright road at morning and just wanted to run.
Of course, gypsy wagons are hard to navigate on freeways. Also, horses scared her. And boats cost a lot of money, and do not automatically come with a rogeish, obediant crew. Me and Harry and a car was what Kage had to hand, and it all worked out pretty well.
She was wont to disguise these sudden flights into strange lands as writing sabbaticals – she was so good at it, in fact, that she did get a lot of writing done on them. But that was never their only purpose. Sometimes, she just yearned to be moving; ours was the sort of household where you’d wake up some morning, and simply get in the car and wander off. Day trips were always popular, but sometimes we left on a Friday and didn’t get back until Monday … it depended on whether or not we took Harry along. With Harry at home, we were always back by nightfall – one has obligations to companion animals. But if we took him with us … well, a lot of motels that won’t take dogs will accept a demure little bird in a cage.
So, when a friend asks me to house-sit, I am always delighted. I love the journey, the isolate freedom, the simple movement. Though the I-5 was more than a little scary this trip – so many fields fallow, or scorched and brown with a new crop dead in them. There are dust devils everywhere – I drove right through one, feeling the car jerk to one side and then the other as I punched through the circling walls of air. Very unnerving. I could see it as I came up on it, outlined in straw and dust and the spare bits of an ex-coyote; and I could see that my 70 mph vehicle did niot affect its walls at all in my rear view mirror.
Though for all the dessicated fields, the heart of the Long Valley was not as hot as Los Angeles …
The Altamont hills were not only not green at all, they were on fire. The smoke was peeling off in all directions in vast ribbons, spun out by the wind turbines blaze as the thing dun grass burned. In fact, I didn’t see a green hillside until I got to Berkeley – there, and further North, the hills were still a littke verdant. It wasn’t the rampaging green of the usuak spring growth – more like the dusty olive green of Mendoza’s childhoods in Spain and Australia – but at least it was green.
And here in the enchanted Berkeley cottage where I azm happily ensconced, I am under the blessed cloak hem of the fog. It comes and goes zall day, and the sunlkight strobes slowly on the garden through curtains of pearl and ivory. It’s wonderful.
The writing has not kicked in with its usual vigour, but part of that is my delight in just sitting here being cool again. Also, I am breaking in a new Buke – a mini tablet for journies, as Kage’s dear old original Buke has grown eccentric and tricksy. I had the minimal good sense to get a decently sized peripheral keyboard, but my typing is still bad as I get used to the new touch.
This new Buke would have been impossible for Kage – it’s an Amazon Fire, working off a proprietory browser called Silk and God only knows what OS. Here’s where decades of making my living as a temp office worker stand me in good stead: I have no problem figuring out how it works. I’ve dealt with much more opaque systems, usually designed by the CEO’s wife or kid … I’ve often earned my bread by haviung a sort of charisma over Windows clones. But Kage would have lost her mind in short order.
However, I am fine. It’s beautiful up here, and if I am not writing as much as I wanted to, I am at least writing.
The journey is often so much more important than ever arriving …