-F. W. Ford, Riggins
As a firm believer in “action as the best policy” I decided my summer doldrums could best be cured by a new course of action. For three weeks I thought about it: that trip to New York I had been planning for years; some time I wanted to spend on the Oregon Coast; the voyage back to Chile my daughter has been urging me to take. But each idea relied on extensive moving and travel, something my oxygen concentrator and CPAP machine and diabetic needs make a bit more difficult.
The answer, when it came, seemed obvious. I wanted a city with differing experiences where I could easily move about and see some familiar faces, where I could afford to stay for a while, and have some feeling of home. Boise sat right in my back yard.
With the help of my neighbors and my children, I moved to Boise. I left my house to the care of my friends and my garden as the winter home for some bees from a colder climate. I had initially thought three months a good vacation, but rentals are very expensive for less than six.
My first week began well. I moved into my North End (tiny) apartment, installed the cat, fired up the computer and felt right at home. My two children, sure I would starve on my own, took me to dinner in the neighborhood, and friends came to visit, and to take me for lunches, and dinners as well.
The fun began the first Saturday: I was invited to the BSU-Air Force game, tailgate and all. Miss Idaho walked by, accompanied by Mr. Potato, both of whom were willing to pose with me for photographs, proving once again that if you want to look good, stand by Mr. Potato, not Miss Idaho. Just before the half, as BSU converted for the extra point, I caught the football as it came through the goal posts! But they wouldn’t let me keep it, which I thought cruel and unfriendly. It also explained why the fans next to me weren’t all that excited about getting it themselves.
Later, after a rest, I got on my go-to-meeting clothes to attend the Morrison Center for the Philharmonic’s “Heroic Beethoven,” with a guest conductor (from Australia) and a guest pianist (from Venezuela). The place was sold out, and the performance was breath taking.
The next day, after church, and a stroll through falling leaves in the park, I found a neighborhood street fair, and joined in the festivities with gusto. It was several hours before I realized how tired I was and that I needed to get home and to bed.
The first week in the city had proved to be as exhilarating and as exhausting as I thought it might be. The whole point of the move was to enlarge my world, reconnect with old friends and an area I loved forty years ago. So far my expectations have been met.
In the ensuing weeks I have found where the cheapest gas is to be had, cruised the mall, found a beauty salon and a masseuse, taken my nine-year-old grandson to the exhibit of the Day of the Dead and enrolled him in a wall-climbing program, shared the Laundromat with three homeless men, and attended the swash-buckling pirate ballet danced by Ballet Idaho.
Like most tourists, I am totally immersing myself in everything the place has to offer, and I scour the newspaper every day to make sure that nothing I might want to see is passing me by. At the same time I am trying to internalize every opportunity so that it becomes a treasured memory, which I can revisit often in the months and years to come.
Right behind my new apartment is an entrance to the Hull’s Gulch and Camel Back Trail System, which even for me is not a hard hike. I don’t jog it, as many here do with their dogs, nor do I go very far. But I can spend an hour quietly reviewing my latest experiences, thanking God for the opportunity to enjoy this very special time. I am immensely thankful, as well, that people in this place so value their environment that they have set aside a bit of wildness for people to experience.
For me, the real treat is that when I walk I am reminded not only of the latest event, but also of the place from which I come, Riggins. I know that after all the fun, the new experiences and faces, I have a home to which I will return. For that, most of all, I give thanks.