I bought a giant sequoia sapling. It’s really small right now, as saplings are wont to be, but just wait a couple a hundred years, and it’ll really be something.
It sits in the corner of my living room window, where it gets good sun and a good mist a few times a day when I am sitting at my home office desk. It seems happy taking this part of its life really slowly; so I stare at it and wish I were it.
Over the course of the last few months, I kept adding things to my “offseason” calendar. A raft trip here, a Lake Powell trip there, a Moab trip after that, a beach trip after that. And of course KK’s season closing party at Rancho Del Rio must be attended.
All these things fit into my schedule at the time, so I planned on them. Then September suddenly arrived, and here I am, losing my mind. I don’t have a free day until mid-October.
Do you ever wake up in the morning and go to get dressed and discover that the only underwear you have left to wear are the type you only wear to special occasions? I’m at that point, and knowing that I have two months of underwear on hand means I haven’t done laundry in as long.
There’s camping gear piled up in my bedroom and filling my car and camper van. As the type of trip changes, it gets shuffled around but never put away because who has time for that?
Then I had an idea that it would be a good time to replace the strut mounts on my car on the one carefully budgeted day off on my calendar. To make it an even better idea, I decided that while I am at it, I might as well put in a lift kit. Everyone knows that lifted vehicles are cool, especially when it is a Volvo — a brand well known for its masculine confidence when dropping the kids off at the soccer field. Throw on a Texas Longhorns bumper sticker, and I’ll be a real local.
I thought it would be easy; the lift kit has only four parts, total. A friend has a garage with all the tools. I would just spend a day doing it and then move on to the next task in my life.
My Labor Day weekend was consumed with the car, and all my other free-time tasks were put on hold. There was just one bolt that I couldn’t reattach, on just one wheel. So I put that one suspension back together and drove around with a nice leaning swagger for a few days.
The giant sequoia just sat there in the window, soaking up the sun and being content. I should give it a name, maybe Charlie? Charlie sounds nice. Charlie is a wise tree. I don’t have a lot of time to stare at him, but when I do, Charlie just glistens with placidity. I imagine his calendar is quite free for at least the next 10 years before he starts getting busy growing really fast and has to move.
I tried again to finish the car. I failed again. Had to leave it behind while I camped in the Gunnison Gorge. Life is good there. Wake up when it gets warm, sit around, rig the boats, put on at the crack of 1:30 p.m., float for two hours, make camp. Repeat.
But the second I was off the water, it was back to a hundred things to get done and enough time to do one.
Charlie grew a micrometer while I was gone. I can tell he’s pretty proud about that. Smug bastard.
I rounded up three friends to work on the car, and eureka! All I needed to get that last bolt attached was eight arms. I am not sure why I couldn’t do it before. Now just have to get it aligned, replace the hood support shocks and throw away all the old parts that fill the trunk. Perhaps by 2021, I will finish the car. That will be a great feeling.
Charlie has big plans for 2021, too. I’m pretty sure he has the entire year blocked off as “out of office” because he will be relaxing in the sun and maybe growing an inch or two. Someday he knows he’s going to get taller several feet a year, but for the next decade or two, he’s going to take it easy.
I’m just trying to make it through the next four weeks. Charlie has his entire life figured out.
I know this is the life I choose to live in Aspen, where one’s entire budget of free time can be completely derailed by having just one thing going awry. It’s probably not always healthy, but it’s our culture, and I’ve bought into it.
I suppose it’s not the only option. I could say no to a trip here or there in September, but then, what do I do the rest of the year when everyone else is busy? Stare at a tree?
I think the answer to that question is yes. Staring at Charlie has become my happy place.