July 1, 2018

Retirement Living: A Quiet Escape


It is the quiet one can hear.  Dozens of different birds beginning their day with chirping, squawking, flapping, but all in a natural way, a sound not often heard at home.

The sprinklers click on, spraying a fine mist over the English ivy that cover parts of the yard hovering just above the side patio. The sound is not unlike a very fine rain except it ends precisely when the timer clicks off.

In 60 minutes, a handful of cars and one dump truck drive by, obeying the 25 mph limit, making their passage a gentle whoosh instead of a rumble or roar. The biggest surprise, here in a older neighborhood on the outskirts of Prescott, Arizona, is the lack of barking dogs. I have heard just one, and his bark broke the calm for just a few minutes.

I expected this neighborhood, with smaller cottages and older homes, all with trucks in the driveway and some form of vegetable garden on the side yard, to be alive with barking pets. But, not a problem. Our dog, Bailey, hears things we don't so an occasional low grumble in her throat announces a potential threat to her masters. Otherwise, sitting on one of the two side patios, by mid morning, after any commuters have left for their job, there is silence.

It has been a long time since I noticed the lack of much to hear. And, it was very welcome; just natural sounds, undisturbed by much from us humans. With very little wind, no clouds to distract the mind, I was left with my thoughts, a totally engrossing book, and the joy of a hot cup of slightly bitter, just-brewed coffee.

Betty and I were spending a week at an Airbnb about two hours north of home. Back less than a month from our European trip, we were looking for an excuse to miss some of the worst of an Arizona summer. Late June is hot, blazingly so, with no humidity and no clouds. The summer rains, if they come, won't start for several more weeks, so there is nothing to break the day-to-day sameness.

In a stroke of lucky timing, our daughter's house was undergoing 6 weeks of major kitchen and flooring renovations. Betty and I decided to head north and invited her family to enjoy a normal home environment for a week. Instead of using a refrigerator stuck in the garage, hand washing dishes on the back porch, and cooking over a grill, she and her family had a full kitchen, a working dishwasher,  a big TV, and no construction mess to contend with for six glorious days. 

We relished the chance to visit an area we enjoy, have some meals with friends who live here, and simply relax. We'd get up early enough to take Bailey to nearby lakes and parks, where her nose went into overtime sampling the new smells. With two back patios at the house we could move to whichever side offered the most shade or breezes.



  

Breakfast was coffee, tea, a danish,and yogurt in the cool backyard. Lunch and dinner choices were picked from what Trip Advisor suggested. We read a lot, watched favorite shows on Netflix, blogged, and edited photos. The pace of each day was slow, the pleasures fulfilling.

We visited three nearby lakes and ventured into the forest for a few hikes. A beautiful neighborhood pack was an oasis of green in the high desert tans of most of the area. A big band jazz concert at the Courthouse Square provided the music for hundreds of music lovers and dozens of dancers.




Lynx Lake



Goldwater Lake






Watson Lake's amazing rock formations





Bailey on the hunt

All too soon, we had to pack up, leave the quiet neighborhood and cooler weather. Our regular life drew us back to the over-heated desert and our normal chores and responsibilities. But, the week-long change left us refreshed and ready to tackle what lay ahead.



 Thank you, Prescott, for the memories!

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26 comments:

  1. Love this post Bob! Your writing captures the joy of living quietly, appreciating the moment, drinking in our surroundings and allowing ourselves to be at peace. So many times it's easy to get caught up in "doing" things. But the ability to be quiet in our souls, relax and enjoy the moment...one of the best ways I know to find peace within your soul.

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    1. Well said! I love the way you worded this, Carole, and I couldn't agree with you more.

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    2. It was noticeably more calm than at home. Of course, if we lived here full time all the responsibilities and normal intrusion of life would change our perspective. But, on a one week break, things flowed very nicely.

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  2. Beautiful! I want to go.
    Jeff

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  3. I love this post too Bob because that's how my neighborhood is! The retirement papers go in this November..my birthday gift to myself. I expect to be out by February. I cannot wait. It's a year earlier than planned but I'll manage. Glad you had a nice visit with your family.

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    1. You will love the freedom to live how you want and do what you want.

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  4. Bob, it sounds like a wonderful time and it seems that you and Betty found a little slice of heaven away from the summer heat. I'll bet that being able to enjoy that time with your daughter and her family made it even sweeter. Good for you - and thanks for the reminder to slow down and make the time to refresh and recharge!

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    1. There are two places in Arizona we enjoy to "get off the carousel" for a while: Prescott and Flagstaff. Both are no more than 3 hours away, so taking a break is easy.

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  5. Prescott is a beautiful piece of heaven,especially in summer.Can you swim in Lynx Lake? I thinkk you can rent kayaks.. time for us to head up North!!! A lovely post! I get so much out of short trips.. much more relaxing than airports,suitcases and time changes!!

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    1. No swimming is allowed in any of the lakes around Prescott. Boating and fishing are, but the lakes all have submerged rocks and tree limbs so the powers that be are worried about injuries to swimmers.

      Prescott bills itself as "America's Hometown." With the beautiful, old-fashioned Courthouse Square, a vibrant downtown with no big box or chain stores, and four seasons of weather (unlike the Phoenix area), Prescott is very popular with retirees.

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  6. That sounds heavenly! We are trying to decide where to go for our 'ahem' 50th anniversary in October. I think a river cruise in France may be exactly what we want. We'll see!
    b

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    1. The Rhine River cruise was for our 42nd and the perfect choice.

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    2. We just booked a Western Caribbean cruise today for our 40th anniversary next May! We generally stay on dry land, but since we'll spend a few days in New Orleans (one of our favorite cities to visit) we'll get acclimated before joining the maddening crowds.

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  7. Hi Bob! My husband and I are doing something similar. We live in the desert too (just north and west of you) and we know how miserable a summer can be. So we are also renting an airbnb at the beach for two months. Because we rightsized our finances we have the freedom to be gone for stretches of time and it certainly changes how we view summer now. (it used to be something to endure--now it is something to look forward to again.) I hope you both get a chance to escape at least once or twice more this summer. ~Kathy

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    1. We are going to Portland at the end of August. That is one of our favorite places, plus we have friends to reconnect with.

      Betty and I have talked about spending a month or two somewhere away from the heat. But, we have concluded that we don't want to be away from family that long, especially when the grandkids are young.So a week here and there seems to work best.

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  8. This is the kind of thing that makes retirement what it is. The freedom to take a short (or long) getaway, the slower pace.

    We just returned to Ontario from visiting friends in Connecticut. On the way home, we decided to take it slow and savour the trip, seeing some new places. We checked in with our son, who is home with us while on a co-op work term from school and was looking after our cat, to see if that would be okay. His response? "Look at you two, living the retirement lifestyle. Of course it's okay!" Yes, the retirement lifestyle can be pretty great.

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  9. I love the sounds of the natural world, especially when I can open my windows to hear the birds chattering away. It soothes the soul and allows for clear thinking without the distractions of all the man (or woman) made noise that we encounter each day. Prescott sounds like a nice place to escape the heat and a slower pace of life.

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    1. It is very different from the feeling in the Phoenix metro area. Of course, close to 5 million people make a lot of noise!

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  10. 64 degrees right now in Portland--your vacation awaits!

    I find that in my life, the quietest place is sometimes in my house. Right now then only thing I can hear is the canary pecking at some food. But as you say, in the city that is often not true, and a few minutes from now I might hear a truck go by, or leaf blowers, or construction sounds nearby.

    My cabin is away from the city, but it is never silent because I can always hear the creek, a welcome sound indeed.

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    1. The high on July 16th is supposed to be 98. Come on, Galen. Work on that.

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  11. We've enjoyed the times we've been to Prescott - actually considered buying a place there a few years back. It is a growing town, though, and I expect it will get noisier.

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    1. It has grown up quite a bit since we started visiting 25 years ago. With a few newer bypass routes it is easy to avoid the traffic crush near the Courthouse Square on weekends.

      If you like 4 seasons, Prescott is a good choice. Just a touch of snow in the winter, warm in the summer, and moderate otherwise. It has a large and growing retirement population.

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  12. I love your description of the birds chirping and other peaceful natural sounds. In the semi-rural area where we live, it is much like that most of the time. We do live close to an access road in the area, so at certain times of the day we hear vehicles, but as it is a two-land twisty little road, it is not bad at all. Mostly birds, wind, rain, bees — that’s what we hear.

    Jude

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    1. We have enough birds in our backyard and neighborhood to not feel completely cut off from nature. But, the sounds and silence at the rental house were much more obvious than at home.

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