Fairly Useless, but Highly Entertaining
Annie and I are down in Willits for a few days this week, first of all, because Annie needed to renew one of her prescriptions, but also because it has become the pattern that she rarely stays up on the mountain for more that four or five days at a span, before she needs to take a break.
When Annie is on the mountain, she never stops cooking. She cooks lunches for Happyday Farms, she bakes, and she cooks for Lito and the two of us, so when she heads down to Willits, it’s for the purpose of collapsing. It’s been two years and three months since the little Pine Street Motel came into being, and it’s not likely to end its reign anytime soon.
I used to hate coming down here, partially because of the circumstances of Annie having to be close to medical attention, and the prescription drug store, but also because, well, it’s Willits, and I have never been a fan of Willits. I used to have to be so very careful not to so much as breathe that sentiment, because it would have made Annie...well, I was going to say mad, but of course, Annie does not get mad.
In winter it is frigid. If it is thirty degrees on the mountain, then it is twenty in Willits. There is incessant traffic, even on the side streets, because of the way that the highway goes straight through the town. Kids do not walk to school in Willits; they are driven. We never take our walks any time in the 8:00-9:00 range, because it doesn’t matter where you are, you are engulfed in cars.
When Annie’s folks moved from San Jose to Willits, in 1985, we were thrilled, because now the boys could get to spend tome with their grandparents. Willits took on a new glow, because frequently it meant that the boys were going to stay a few hours, or a few days, so that Annie and I could get away for a much-needed break.
Now, though the grandparents are gone, and Willits is still here, I am finally-after close to thirty years-beginning to gradually develop an affection for the little ice burg, located an hour south from my mountain. For one thing, when I am on the mountain, there is always a mountain of work awaiting. That is a given.
That doesn’t mean I work 24/7, but when I’m not, I stress because I feel I should be...doing something! Well, down in Willits, by definition, there is very little in the way of work. I do the dishes after a meal, I feed and walk the Dozer, and I rake the leaves on the side driveway, and that’s about it.
Otherwise, I write, read some, write some more, maybe even work a jig-saw puzzle, and then, just for the heck of it, I write another little something, something. And I try not to feel guilty. I do love to walk the back streets, taking my camera in hand, when it is not raining, and I do know a lot of people who live down here, half-hour south of Laytonville.
I like to walk Dozer in a big square, one of its borders being the 101 itself, so as the Doze struts along the highway, he inevitably draws a lot of attention. One morning last week, a woman driving a mammoth fire engine-red pickup truck, almost fell out the driver’s side window, because she was leaning out the window so far, craning her head backwards to be able to keep the Doze in her sights. She was determined to continue telling me her story, which obviously had something to do with English bulldogs.
I couldn’t make out what she was yelling, and furthermore, I was afraid she was going to run into something. Fortunately, the Doze took it all in stride, as he usually does. You know what they say about old Dozer: He’s fairly useless as farm dogs go, but he is highly entertaining.
Just ask the woman in the big red pickup.