The glory of downsizing your life

Recently, people rush up to me on Winslow Way with questioning but uneasy looks on their faces. “Are you really happy in your condo?” they ask.

  • Tuesday, June 10, 2008 12:07am
  • Opinion

Recently, people rush up to me on Winslow Way with questioning but uneasy looks on their faces. “Are you really happy in your condo?” they ask.

“It’s wonderful,” I reply truthfully.

Skepticism abounds, “You really do?” they continue.

“I really do.”

They leave shaking their heads, bewildered, for they know that we lived in the perfect house on the water with a dock, a fine garden, lots of storage and a guest house. Now, we live in 1,400-square-foot, four-room condo. And, as I have said, it’s wonderful.

Let me go back to October. I was visiting my neighborhood friend and saw a large white bag of compost on her path.

I realized then that having purchased our new home at the Vineyard, I would never have to buy compost, never have to lug it from the car and never have to spread it.

I knew the husband would never have to carry garbage cans up the hill to the street, never have to carry them back, and I would never have to untangle hoses or worry about too much water or too little water, never have to worry about eagles gobbling up ducklings.

In other words, nature would no longer be a burden or even guilt producing.

Of course, there are things I will miss: the aforementioned ducklings appearing for the first time with their parents; the cormorants opening their wings to dry; the beauty of the Sound during the seasons. But I can go to the park for those delicious moments, even leave the park when something appears to wilt. “Not my garden,” I will say.

You may ask, “Aren’t those things trivial to such a life change?”

We had other issues, the husband’s bad knees, for example.

“How long before he will tumble down the steps?” I asked myself many times.

And I needed to tune down, not tune up with chores.

The move meant downsizing, which gave us the willies. Our storage area seemed insurmountably full of “things.”

What would we do with all those “beloved” Christmas decorations, the paintings, the boxes of photographs and the oddments that arrived with us after a trip to Mexico, Europe or Mississippi?

Determined, we sold, donated and delivered our “treasures.” We discovered how rarely we needed treasures. The silver goblets, silver bowls, photographs, books, ancient slot machines, rugs and other oddments we thought we would “keep forever” disappeared into the grateful arms of our children.

Little did they know that the “valuable” mementos of an extravagant life would become as burdensome as we had discovered. They will, one day, move them to their children with a loud sigh of relief.

So, here we sit on our outstanding balcony watching gardeners mulch to their hearts content, admiring the sounds of garbage trucks loading out garbage with our recyclables, and considering our free time with joy.

“Looking backward” is no possibility.

One day last week the husband and I watched two mallards plop on our small community pond. The husband murmured, “They must be downsizing.”

To go from Puget Sound to that small pond!

Now that’s downsizing.

Sally Robison is a Winslow artist and the author of “The Permanent Guest’s

Guide to Bainbridge Island.”

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