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A new frontier for retirement

Posted in Aging, Life & Love, and Women's issues

Photo credit: mendosa.com

“The pipes froze last night. K said that we won’t have water until the sun has time to warm the ground and the pipes. He said the pipes will unfreeze around 11:00. Sun is starting to come up over the Eastern ridge. Thermometer says 26 degrees, 6 degrees below freezing.

Boy I was freezing cold before dawn. This morning I put our 4 point wool Whitney blanket on the bed underneath the comforter to try to keep us warmer tonight. The Whitney blanket played a big part in the old West. When the buffaloes were all gone, the Indians would trade for the Whitney blankets to keep warm to replace the buffalo robes that were no more.

Fall is here & they say it is the most beautiful time of the year.  I agree. The Rocky Mountains are all ablaze with vibrant gold leaves of the aspen trees leafed with bright orange & warm reds among the gold. My head turns with amazement at every bend of the road seeing the expanse of mountains vibrant with these colors & the beautiful valleys below.

K said that the house will not be finished before Winter snows set in. The exterior will be finished & weatherproof but the carpenters will then come inside to start the finish work. He said that it will be too much of a mess to live inside while the house is being finished.

His plan is to move our horse trailer into the barn & to live inside the barn through the winter. The barn won’t be heated or insulated but he said at least it will keep the snow off the trailer roof & away from the front door. I guess that will help. But I heard that up the road the WINTER TEMPERATURE CAN DROP TO 40 BELOW ZERO. I feel like one of the old pioneer women living on the range hoping that she & the family will survive the Winter.”

This is part of an e-mail I received from a friend who, a few months ago, left LA to go live, with her husband, on a piece of land they bought in Colorado. This petite, soft-spoken Japanese woman is one hell of a cowgirl.

Talk about a bold “career” move. My friend C went from working as an administrator at a large LA hospital to making a life inside a trailer, pretty clothes packed away, spending the day feeding and riding horses, finding her roots in Colorado and wishing for indoor plumbing. As a city girl who loves nature but is hard pressed to go anywhere without a shower, I am in deep awe.

This summary, though, does not tell the whole story. C and K have always channelled the frontier people’s spirit. Dedicated horse riders, they would spend their vacations, horses and trailer in tow, riding across the West. They know rodeos and real cowboys, they worked on ranches, they put in the hours and earned their spurs.

At 60, some folks move to a condo in Florida, some take up golfing and a few (only two that I know of) decide to start a 300 acre ranch. Whoever thinks retirement is a time to slow down, should meet my pioneer friends.

Now that we are pretty much guaranteed a longer life, we do tend to work longer (or we are forced to) but we also have to factor in how we will spend this time that, for some, could amount to at least 20 healthy years. It could also be that a new economic landscape, with welfare systems burdened by aging populations and younger contributors in dwindling numbers, could force our generation to re-evaluate our third act. Some of us will end up working longer at our chosen professions  but others might not benefit from the same luxury (I just couldn’t imagine a 60-year-old me still in the music business, for instance). And full retirement might not be a financial option.

I believe new businesses started up by on older crowd will increase, maybe more niche activities based on previous hobbies that will yield lower incomes but just enough not to touch the nest egg for a while longer. I certainly factored all this in when I decided to quit my job before I became too old for it. As it is, I am still trying to find my footing – moving to Colorado for a pioneer experience  will most likely not be my choice but what an inspiration. It forever bans from my imagination the fuddy-duddies on rocking chairs that I imagined old people to be when I was young and stupid. Now we are older and wiser and, it turns out, with just as much enthusiasm.

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4 Comments

  1. silvia
    silvia

    Oh yesss! I’d pay anything to see you turning in a cowgirl!!!!!!!!!!!! who will obviously get the blues

    October 16, 2012
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      Ever seen the photo of me standing next to Margaret’s horse?? I look positively terrified

      October 16, 2012
      |Reply
  2. Whoa! I have fond memories of the beautiful aspens and not so fond ones of the cold nights — in September, that is. I just can’t imagine what living there in winter will be like. The only thing I know about -40F is that it’s the only temperature where it doesn’t matter whether you state it in F or C 😉

    October 16, 2012
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      One more reason to live in California…85 degrees outside, no fear of frost anytime soon!

      October 16, 2012
      |Reply

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