THE COMPOUND, MY VERY OWN RETREAT
By Kat Stickroth
A large part of this new adventure was about me making my own choices for the first time of my life and proving I could do this successfully.
Before going south to get my things, I chose a manufactured home with two feet of snow blanketing the large lot. “I’ll have a lot to mow in the summer, but I’ll deal with that then,” I thought.
Enclosing all of this property was an impenetrable metal fence and a tall lockable gate, providing much needed security. Though others commented how brave I was to make this change, deep inside I was terrified.
Arriving after a seven day journey in the rental truck, I pulled up to the new abode which now had no snow. Instead, a large graveled lot with a small patch of grass around the house lay before me. I met my neighbor soon after unpacking and inquired about the gravel.
“It used to be a salvage yard, with abandoned cars and trucks,” he said.
I laughed at myself. My first big decision, and I had landed in a junkyard.
I mused, “I hope my boys never find out.”
As the days passed, I realized for the first time in my life, I was alone. With no obligations, I was completely responsible for my life and the direction it would take. Pen and paper in hand, I reflected on my past- for 56 years, what worked and what didn’t. Taking breaks, I began to meet friendly people and would join them for coffee or excursions into this beautiful wild land.
They were amused at my parting comment, “Well, got to get back to The Compound.” This place had become like a self-imposed retreat, to quiet myself for a time of soul-searching.
I found beauty in that former scrapheap. Upon a full moon night, the broken glass from countless shattered windshields shimmered as a field of diamonds. During the day, I wandered about, picking up various shards of colorful plastic and chrome. A killdeer couple nested three clutches of babies. A family of quail gathered on my porch to eat the bird seed tumbled from the feeder overhead.
One day, I awoke to the property owner dismantling the gate. He had said from the beginning he planned to do so, but I still panicked. Then an image came to mind, as though God was saying, “Okay, little birdie. It’s time to leave the nest!”
Friends helped me find a home with a breathtaking view of the mountains. Settled in now, and with a new confidence, this Wallowa Gal couldn’t be happier.
Originally published November 4, 2015 in the La Grande Observer newspaper. Reprinted with permission.