The wind and rain did some serious window rattling last night. My youngest – despite her own awareness of the mountains rising protectively around our hometown – asked as she was surrendering to sleep, “Are you sure we can’t have a hurricane here?” It was a concern I remember having myself as a child in this very same town, and I cherished the sensation that we lived in such a remarkably safe place.
Ashland, Oregon is a sweet-natured, semi-conservative, attractive to big city refugees, feels-slightly-metropolitan but is actually a fairly-small-town — that is tucked into the foothills of the Siskiyou and Cascade mountains. It’s not geographically conducive to tornadoes or tsunami’s and it’s been a long time since the last volcanic eruption. I happily settled here, in part, to give my own kids the same nurturing and sheltered childhood that I experienced.
While social and economic times and ways of the world have grown and shifted, Ashland, Oregon has been fortunate to keep crime and calamity to a minimum. But it’s not a utopia, so occasionally bad things happen to this good community. Most recently, a couple incidence of sexual assult. The response throughout Ashland has been swift and vocal. Newspaper articles, police warnings, a composite sketch, internet messages with safety tips, announcements at the University and local high school, and even a “Take Back the Night” march to raise awareness. It’s good stuff. When alone it’s smart to tune in; be familiar with one’s surroundings; take off your ipod and listen to the world around you; practice “wide angle vision” (a tracking term for seeing and intuitive awareness much further than the distance between self and screen, steering wheel or Wii); walk with a “don’t mess with me” confidence. They don’t always stop the worst, but employing these tools and others will definitely increase one’s odds of well being.
So, here am I, finishing today’s blog so that I can — go for a walk, in broad daylight, in the rain, ALONE! Oh my god…how risky.
Let’s face it, we can spend our whole lives being afraid or cautious – or even equal and intelligent parts of both. We can employ every measure of safe living and behavior that we are taught. We can stay in, lock the doors, filter the water, “green” the house, eat organic, take our vitamins, put on our coat, walk with a buddy and carry pepper spray, but in the end, we have no control. Huh? Nope. Nadda. Sometimes, no matter what you’ve done “right,” a monster shows up. Shit happens — in spades — right in your own living room.
Having recently lost so much of the freedom I treasure so dearly and the sense of safety — for myself and my loved ones — that I have always prized, I will not relinquish a simple act that brings me joy. I will take walks.