Despite the setbacks, the dream, though slippery and changed from its original intent, lived on.  Over the years, land partners had revolved; marriage and new families entered the picture.  My initial dream of a place far from any crowd dissolved.  I could be “close in” and content, secluded but not isolated.  Six years of tread-wearing had narrowed my ragged topography maps to two locales: southern Oregon or north-central Oregon/south-central Washington (distinguished by its proximity to a natural showcase, the Columbia River Gorge and a welcomed sunny climate).  When my latest land-hunting partners, Marc and Brook, took the gamble and moved to an outpost apartment on the eastern edge of the Columbia River Gorge, our decision was locked.  Marc and I still clutched the rumpled land buyer’s bible — Les Scher’s Finding and Buying Your Place in the Country, which we toted with us on every property visit.

I liked the combination the Gorge offered: a gentle land, drier than the wet west of the Cascade Mountains climate, small, comfortable communities, mountains of mythical proportions, nearby waterways, cheap land, down-to-earth people and vistas which laid beauty before the eye and encompassed the heart.

The search sharply narrowed.  One area which Marc had praised, I could not even get close to due tot he owner’s graphic warning signs.  They were not your nonthreatening “No Trespassing” tokens, but rather ominous threats, and effectively turned me away.  Another hilltop seemed too remote for my liking.  Marc and Brook swallowed hard at my reaction almost to the point of wondering if I was still interested int he land pursuit, but kept on searching and…came through.  They acted swiftly on a local ad: the owner of 40 inexpensive acres desired to take flight to less civilized shores — wild Alaska.  We were renewed and our optimism was revived.

I had been involved int his undertaking for eight years, pursuing an elusive dream, which like the ebb and flow of ocean waves, seemed repeatedly close to reality then far out to sea.  Marc watched me intently as he introduced this latest serene acreage five miles from the two block town of Lyle, Washington.  We had shared the windy silence before and had been disappointed more times than we cared to remember, yet this place felt different.

People react differently to heart-moving experiences.  Some, like game show winners jump up and down, hugging anyone in sight; others cry for joy; while still others (and I typically fall into this group) take it all in silently, the mind analyzing, while the heart sings in the background.  Inwardly, I was leaping, though inexplicably I failed to show my outwardly and Marc depressed.

What made this earth prize appealing was that it favorably compared to our land list of requirements, and it offered something intangible, a song directed at me, a planetary echo most audible to those who spend their lives with ears close to the earth.  One in a lifetime, if we’re lucky, we non-native city-evolved humans with dulled senses are able to purely listen to what the land is saying.  In our stillness, our open receptivity, we link hearts with the source of our being.  The music seeps in, emanating from all directions.  And between the notes, a silent drum roll beats and the soul understands.  Here I belong!  To test the skeptical notion that my first visit might have been an aberration, I returned on several occasions, and every time, no matter where I stood on the property, the ethereal voices followed me.  Confirmation.

It wasn’t long before Marc knew of my ecstasy.  This time nothing would prevent us from signing the purchase papers.  Celebration followed that signing and continues to this day ~