My downstairs office is big and quiet and jammed with bookshelves; it’s basically ideal for getting work done. I’m not distracted by an expansive view of the mountains and it’s wholly private.

On the warm, sunny days I sometimes turn off the horrendously fast desktop PC, grab the netbook, put my feet up on the porch railing and write outside.

My yard

For the picture I took my feet off the rail (the pond is just to the left)

I don’t get nearly as much written, but there are compensations; just now the tree squirrels started chattering indignantly, and a few seconds later a coyote trotted through the yard.

The landscape here is volcanic, so water percolates through it like it was a coffee filter. That means our small pond doesn’t look like much, but it represents some of the only standing water in the area.

So the parade of wild animals is continuous: birds, squirrels, deer, fox, snakes, mice, an osprey and the coyote stop by on a regular basis. It drives our half-lab/half basset crazy.

Early last Thursday, I watched a black bear swim laps, grunting like he was finally scratching a persistent itch (I think he’s the same bear who demolished our garage door last year).

If I get the urge, in less than fifteen minutes I can be fly fishing one of several pretty trout streams.

In short, there are real privations associated with rural living, but the wildlife and outdoor opportunities aren’t among them.

Amusingly, I still bristle when people say I’m “lucky” to live here, as if we didn’t plan this or make sacrifices to get our three wooded acres on the flank of a stratovolcano.

I can be a prickly, cranky sort, yet I’m smart enough to know a better reaction is gratitude; becoming a fulltime professional writer today means overcoming a lot of challenges I never faced.

And here I find myself working from a part of the world unblighted by high rises and traffic.

Which means I did get lucky; putting my feet up on the porch rail means I’m literally staring out at trees and a mountain — not suburbia or an apartment parking lot.

It’s easy to get swept up in the whirlwind of work, invoicing hassles, client abuses and the massive changes sweeping the industry.

It’s better to experience a little gratitude that I get to do this at all.

Keep writing, Tom Chandler.