When I first moved up to the ranch, a decade ago, life here seemed so far away from the city. In the city, I had become accustomed to neighbors whose houses were less than 50 feet apart in some cases, and apartment neighbors whom you could hear through the walls. The closest neighbors by the ranch were a mile away. I couldn’t see another house from the main house on the ranch and life here was much less hectic. A slower pace existed here to everything and that took some getting used to.
But, the rewards to slowing down eventually came shining through, like being able to see the stars on clear nights. The Milky Way wasn’t quite as visible as when I was a young kid. Even though I am a hour away from any city of any size, the light pollution has grown tremendously. Even though Dallas-Fort Worth is several hours away, the Metroplex still lights up the southern sky, hampering the efforts of the stars to shine like they once did here.
There were other things that took some getting used to at first, too. Dial-up internet connections and a trip to the grocery store took thirty minutes rather than less than five. Thanks to some hard work by the local phone crews we did get DSL a few years back. Shopping is easily an online affair and an hour-plus trip to the grocery store isn't really a big deal anymore. It does require a little planning, though, as regularly going to pick something up from the grocery store can be expensive gas-wise.
There is something, however, to being outside the hustle and bustle of the city. Don't get me wrong; there are still signs of civilization everywhere: the military trainers that fly over head several times a day or oil/gas wells being drilled in the distance. When there isn't any wind one can hear semis hauling their loads down the highway miles away. The dirt road that leads past the ranch has more traffic than it once did. Of course, here traffic may consist of more than five or six cars a day (less than ten or fifteen).
But I don't think I would trade the city back for life here unless I had to. I really enjoy taking the time to notice the sunrises and sunsets, the stars, planets and Earth's moon on cloudless nights. The critters also make life here enjoyable. The other morning, while I was watering the square-foot garden beds, there was this little lizard laying on a cucumber leaf monitoring a flower, perhaps waiting for a meal. Of course, the dog Frosty was monitoring the lizard. I've had to rebuild the fence around the square-foot garden multiple times due to the battle between the lizard and Frosty that has taken place over the last several weeks.
Writing is also much more enjoyable, easy to concentrate on. I have read for years about writers' retreats but never attended one. Now I have my own retreat every day. I have as yet to master the ability to dedicate a set time to writing every day, but I do think, regardless of the topic, one should write at some point or multiple points every day about something if one wants to be a successful writer. Maybe it's an article for a blog, an entry into a diary, something for a book you want to publish some day or merely a one sentence idea. Write! Write! Write!
Write by tapping letters into a smart phone or tablet. Make handwritten notes on a piece of paper or key entries into a desktop or a laptop. Always keep some medium available for writing down ideas at all hours of the day, be it a smartphone to tap a note into or a small notepad and pen. I have found myself tapping out ideas into a smartphone in bed in the middle of the night just as easily as while standing on the edge of a pond fishing. I have written notes on all kinds of mediums over the years, be it on a sticky note while working at a desk job or in a notebook as a passenger on a plane. It is important to never lose an idea and you never know when the creativity bug is going to strike.
Alas, I have strayed from topic. I do that from time to time. Well, let's be honest. I do that a lot of the time. Life on the ranch, observations on the ranch, are really about change. Seasonal, personal, insightful. Whether you live in the city or not, I encourage everyone to take the time at least once a week to remember the sunrises and sunsets, pay attention to the critters (be they human or otherwise), look up to the stars and listen to the sounds around you. Our time on this planet can be as short as it may seem long. Share your experiences with others as much as possible and keep writing.