Down the Oregon Trail

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Covered_Wagon_(Baker_County,_Oregon_scenic_images)_(bakD0133)Facebook asks, “What’s on your mind” and my first reaction is, “What mind?” Because there have been times in the last month that I feel like I’ve lost my mind, or rather left it in the gutter somewhere between Newport, Oregon, and Jerome, Idaho.

Sixty-five is a golden age, right? Sixty-five is when you retire and take it easy. That’s what I say to the stranger looking back at me in the mirror. The one who decided sixty-five was the perfect age to take on a new adventure.

This mind-blowing escapade wasn’t planned, but a trip to Oregon to celebrate my grandson’s high school graduation turned into a life-altering event. Tack on two extra days to visit the Oregon Coast and thirty days later I’ve signed an offer on a house, and I’m moving to Oregon.

“What?” my friends say in surprise. My closest friend shakes her head in disbelief, and no one is more surprised than I am.

The last time we moved, we moved to be closer to my husband’s work. We bought a place on ten acres, planted fruit trees, and made our home. Everything here has a place. Here everything is comfortable and settled. Apples and peaches are ripening, and soon squirrels will fight over walnuts and filberts. I should be relaxing with a book, or having coffee with friends. Instead, I’m facing mountains of boxes as I plan my move.

Taping a box of dishes shut, I catch myself singing, Hurry up old pioneer, keep a-movin’, your gallant little band must never fail. Riding side by side ‘cross the great divide, down the Oregon Trail.”

As I sing, I think about the women who made the trek to Oregon over a hundred years ago and how they had to narrow their life into a covered wagon. It’s hard, heart-wrenching work. What to take? What to leave? The task is daunting and often I have to walk away from the packing. I have to take a deep breath and practice meditation to calm my anxiety. Or play a couple hands of spider solitaire, brew a cup of calming tea, and consider a tall gin and tonic.

Moving at any age is scary. But moving at sixty-five feels like nothing I’ve ever done before. Questions ricochet in my head. Am I making the right choice? What about doctors? What about medical insurance? Will I miss Idaho? Will I like the rain?

There is a bright side to my madness. Now, when I want to see my grandkids, I only have to drive two hours instead of ten. Now, when I want to attend a conference in Portland, I don’t have to hassle with airport security. When I want to have a dinner with my son and daughter-in-law, or take in a Broadway musical, I can without having to justify the cost of a two-day trip. And best of all, no more holiday dinners on Skype.

Yesterday a picture came across my Facebook page that said: Stress is two forces moving in opposite directions. Sit still.

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I’m going to keep that in mind the next time I feel my head exploding. I’ll take a deep breath, sip a gin and tonic, and try to sit still. But I’ll also be humming, down the Oregon Trail.

 

Wagon train go rollin’ cross the prairie
Winding onward through the storm and gale
Towards the land of dreams trudge the old ox teams
Down the Oregon Trail

Through the night the Lord is in the saddle
Riding herd beneath the moon so pale
Watching o’er ach stray till the break of day
Down the Oregon Trail

There’ll be cattle on each ranch in Oregon
There’ll be valleys filled with golden grain
There’l be apples on each branch in Oregon
For there’ll be plenty sun and rain

Hurry up old pioneer, keep movin’
Your gallant little band must never fail
Riding side by side ‘cross the great divide
Down the Oregon Trail
-Down the Oregon Trail by Burl Ives

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One thought on “Down the Oregon Trail

    Thom Hickey said:
    July 26, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Thanks. Really enjoyed the subject, sentiment and your style here. Regards Thom.

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