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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Life's a beach Part 3: Settling near San Francisco

Oct 31, 2023 11:49AM ● By Jan Weeks

Fog crept over the hill, golden with sunrise, and Tony Bennett’s most famous lyrics echoed in memory. 

A month into my new adventure,
I feel that I’m really here in California.
I miss my old home, of course, and the friends I’ve known for decades, the restaurants and workplaces where I spent so much time off and on since 1959. 

I didn’t fully realize how much a move would require: finding a local bank, switching my Medicare plan to Marin County, trying to find out when my mail would be forwarded and studying the California driver’s test booklet. Yet I’ve managed to deal with all that and more. As I said when I started packing up the old homestead in Grand Junction, “One shelf, one drawer at a time.” 

I didn’t neglect the search for other essentials either. I have a library card, and I know the routes to two indy bookstores, four garden centers and mom-and-pop Scotty’s Market. Lo Coco’s turns out piping pizzas that demand you leave no bite untasted.  

My sister Joyce, who I moved in with, isn’t a gardener. Other than a couple who comes to mow, trim and rake leaves, nothing’s been done to the yard for several years. It’s quite a change from my large lot on the Redlands, which took me 20 years to turn into a peaceful, fruitful garden. So when Joyce gave me permission to do what I want outside, I put on my gloves, grabbed the shovel and went to work. 

Spinach, green onions and flat-leaf parsley sprout in the single raised bed, and five hours of hard labor turned a neglected, root-bound corner into a shade garden of ferns, coleus and columbines. Milkweed, the varieties that monarch butterflies feed on, have moved from their now-defunct garden to pots for the winter. Bags of compost and manure wait to be dug into soil as solid as an innocent man’s alibi, where I visualize future flower beds. 

Joyce and I have fun, too. We have Sunday breakfast with friends in Bogie’s Café, where a portrait of Humphrey looks toward an out-of-shot Ingrid from “Casablanca.” We take long walks (five or six miles, easy) through the neighborhood where we pet dogs and chat with folks. We hike in redwoods and wetlands, and cook and critique new dishes as we move toward more plant-based nutrition. 

And the beach! Tide pools of sea anemones and tiny crabs, the whisper of foam as it spreads over the sand, the immensity of ocean where the next land is Japan. Tides changing with the moon, and negative ions filling me with serenity. The feeling of eternity, knowing that the breakers will continue to curl and crash long after this moment.

Before I left Grand Junction, people said, “Now you can finally retire.” News flash: writers and editors never retire, as you can tell by this article and ones that will follow at some point. My court reporters email me transcripts to proofread almost daily, and manuscripts from clients in Grand Junction arrive via USPS. And so life goes on, changed but still the same.

As fall creeps over the landscape, tinting leaves with scarlet and ochre and gold, the nights stretch from cool to chilled as the year wanes. Autumn has arrived in my life, too, sooner than I ever dreamed it would, turning my hair from auburn to silver and joints from supple to stiff. Yet spring shelters in my soul, eager to explore the next bend in the path, the next act of the play, the yet-to-be discovered adventures ahead, as I unpack my new life one shelf, one drawer a time. 

Editor’s note: Jan Weeks has been a loyal BEACON contributor for more than 13 years. Follow her three-part series as this widowed septuagenarian writes about uprooting, navigating change and preparing for an even better next chapter. Make sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 of Life's a Beach from previous issues. 

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