It’s time again for my annual excursion to beautiful Clark Fork, Idaho, for some house sitting fun. This is the few days a year where I break from routine, settle in to my parents’ empty house, and act like I own the place.
First, I have to say, thanks to my parents for making their place so gosh-darned inviting. Their cats are cuddly love monsters. Their cupboards and wine cabinet, fully stocked (and permission to raid them, granted). Their garden even had one welcoming ripe radish for my salad which, by the way, was lovingly made with home-smoked Kokanee salmon (I’d show you a picture, but I already ate it and, anyway, this isn’t Instagram). This is vacation-me talking. Reality-me says, “Holy smoke! How do they do it?!” Kudos to my parents for the time, energy, and devotion to keep such lovingly tended property, lawn and garden, where I could not find a single weed growing out of place, and of the interior, where nowhere could I find a place to write my name in dust (nowhere!!) like I can at my own house. It’s one thing to act like you own a place for a few days – water and mow, get the mail, feed the cuddle monsters. It’s another thing entirely to actually own it. And my parents own it in the literal and figurative sense. This makes me feel woefully inadequate, but, eh, the wine helps.
But for as much fun and relaxation as house sitting offers me, the time hasn’t been without quirks.
- The smoke alarm went off mysteriously at 1:07 a.m. If you ever want to see someone go from a deep sleep to flying through the house without ever touching the floor, just have this happen. No worries; nothing was on fire. Presumably, the battery is going dead in the alarm. Or, there is a mischievous poltergeist who enjoys seeing me go from snore to ceiling in 0.03 seconds. Either way, as long as nothing was actually on fire, we’re good. Go back to sleep, poltergeist.
- Morning meditation was even more challenging with a family of squirrels chattering and squeaking incessantly outside the window. Until this week, I had never paid much attention to the sound squirrels make when they’re not chattering. If you haven’t either, it is the sound of squeezing a squeaky toy or eating cheese curds. My meditation sessions were a little like, “Inhale-two-three-four-squeak, squeak, chatter-chatter-chatter-chatter-squeak – Exhale-two-three-four-squeak…”
- Mysterious gunshots at dusk. Every night, someone nearby must get super excited about the end of the day, shouting, “Whoo! It’s bedtime!! Let’s shoot off some guns!” Uh, no. Not cool, weird neighbors.
- Give the mules just one apple and they will expect more apples. Every time. Apples. More apples, now! I became the Apple Lady, instantly. Apple Jack and his buddy, Squirrel, followed me around as if more apples would magically materialize from my empty hands.
Every time my parents ask if I can house sit, I enthusiastically agree. It’s my chance for uninterrupted time to write, read, color (hey, don’t judge), meditate, exercise, walk in nature, commune with mules, pet cats, decompress, and relax. I miss my own furry kids and family while I’m away, but this time allows me to recharge a be a better person for them when I get back. If an odd smoke alarm firing or a squeaky squirrel is all I’ve got to worry about, I’d say it’s been a pretty good week.