Living in the Cuckoo's Nest

In 1838, in Coxmuir, Scotland, a farmer noticed a common cuckoo carrying its egg and depositing it in the nest of another bird. The parent cuckoo leaves the egg, confident that the hatchling will be cared for by an unwitting foster mother.

Like the common cuckoo, I enjoy living in other people's houses when I travel. It's like trying on other lives for a bit. It's probably something that fiction readers do all the time.

closed up beach house
Yesterday, I walked around the neighbourhood in Seaside, Oregon with our dachshund Tilde. The morning was misty and drizzly as mornings are in December by the sea. There's lots of salal growing in front of shuttered beach houses. I wonder what it would be like to rent such a house in off-season. Not during summer with its hordes of tourists on the beaches but during these grey stormy days.

Many years ago, I read the journals of May Sarton, who in her early sixties went to live in a house in New Hampshire. During this period of separation from her partner, Sarton wrote Journal of a Solitude and The House by the Sea. Sarton describes some days of loneliness and of sadness brightened by her appreciation of her garden, her pets and by visits of friends.  She was ageing, her poetry was not coming easily and her partner suffered from dementia. Loss is inevitable as we grow older.

My fantasies do not involve other people. I am beginning to wonder about relationship. That's a weak dishonest statement. I am trying in my older years, to avoid dissimulation. It sounds "nicer" if we don't really say what we mean. I question every day whether I am suited to living with another person.

view from our room
After breakfast yesterday, I located the local independent book store appropriately named Beach Books where I purchased three paperbacks to read during blustery days.  I wanted to buy Ann Cleeve's The Seagull but it is only available in hardcover. I heard her read a passage from it at the Vancouver Writers' Festival.

Every habitable town (for me) must include an independent bookstore. The sixty-something bookseller was friendly and noticed that I had chosen some of the staff recommendations. He confided that he was the token male employee and knew nothing about fiction, preferring history and local interest books. I went further into the store on a second visit with Monsieur and discovered a wine tasting room. How convenient!

The temperature is warm for this time of year but the wind that propels me down the street feels biting cold. Rain beats against my legs but I am thankful that I chose my oilcloth coat from Denmark and my knit Shetland hat. Those North Sea people know how to dress for wind and rain.
warm hat from Shetland
Monsieur and Tilde have been off playing soccer on the beach. In anticipation of a wet, sandy dog in a clean dog-friendly hotel, I stop at a small hardware store and buy some "shop towels" for quick dog clean-up. I also buy a new extendable leash as our old one broke. I have a conversation about dogs with the salesperson in the hardware store.
my warm coat
It is the daily activities in a different setting that interest me. I am a pedestrian/village person. I don't want to get in a car to drive to the shopping centre. No car, no chain stores in my seaside life. Perhaps, Lerwick, Shetland would suit me.

We have a gas fireplace and a cozy couch in our room. I'm reading a mystery called Murder in Rue 
Dumas by M.L. Longworth. It's an academic murder mystery set in Aix. Can I have simultaneous fantasies? Life's getting shorter...

Thinking of the cuckoo again....The cuckoo hatchling is bigger than many other birds' young. Often the nest is just too small. Sometimes, my life feels confining...Don't know the answer...


  1. I enjoyed this post SO much! One of your best, I think, such an honest voice musing over what you're doing and where and why. I could easily settle into a corner of the life you're sketching now, the seaside wherever, the books, the local walks, friendly interactions, not too demanding. . . .Enjoy!

  2. Thanks, Mater! We've moved on to a favourite woodland/ ocean resort. Not to easy to imagine living here because of isolation. Enjoy your New Year's. Will you be in Salerno?


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