The Succulent Path

It’s fascinating to watch your friends navigate their way down life’s path. We have friends who travel the world, become doctors, or stay in their hometown and have families. Others defy convention and make an alternative lifestyle seem like the right thing to do.

Today, I was fortunate to visit a friend whose off-the-beaten-path way of life brings simplicity to a whole new level and whose cool and calm demeanor makes you wish you could be that way, too.

I first met Sue on a camping orientation trip our freshman year at the University of Colorado at Boulder. While my pack was made to be lightweight, her over-the-top, heavy collection of gear made her pack hover high over her head and her thin frame wobble to and fro as we hiked into the wilderness.

Fourteen years later, I meet Sue again. This time, it’s five miles into the Santa Barbara hills and up a narrow, windy road where wild succulents tower over you and juicy oranges seem to fall from the sky.

She’s nestled in this bed of cushioned flora with her boyfriend, Mitch, daughter, Ursa, and brand new baby girl. Sue has since given up that heavy pack and lives off the grid in a home whose walls are raised only when a new room is needed and whose floors follow the grade of the ground. She lives outside as much as inside, the flourishing gardens surrounding her an integral part of her living space.

I watch how she walks through her land–a serene stroll illustrating the pace at which she lives. Up here, it’s about feeling the earth in every pore of your body and sharing it with the ones you love.

My time here was too short but very precious. Elias played with Ursa, Grandma cooed with the brand new baby girl, Mitch cooked pancakes, and Sue and I caught up on life’s many happenings. I cannot emphasize enough that our time was too brief. There is always too much to say, and now with little ones at our feet, it has become harder to say all that we want.

Here’s hoping our paths will cross again soon, and I can’t wait to see what unconventional piece of paradise Sue will find next.

Ursa and Elias
Brand new baby girl

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