I am a little bit heartbroken. I can feel the lump in my throat. Today I walked down the back stairs from my deck to the hillside swail, where I go every morning with my dogs to greet the sunrise, where every day I put up pictures entitled "Good morning from Laurel Canyon," where I take my cup of tea and breathe in the morning air while the dogs root around, and today there was a fence there. I don't know a lot about the lack of freedom. I've always been more or less free, but today I felt it, right in the center of my chest. And the dogs looked at the fence, expectantly, waiting for me to open the gate that wasn't there, confused. It's a really sad day. The swail is not an ideal path, it's a little wonky, but it follows the hillside around, underneath the houses, and I was the only one who walked there. But we walked every morning and most evenings and sometimes during the day as well if it was a hard day, just the dogs and me, and we listened to birds, and the beeping horns of traffic on Laurel Canyon, and we'd watch the sun come up, or the birds in the asparagus tree. Sometimes I'd record birdsong (my poor, long-suffering Instagram followers). And mostly I'd find a nice flat spot to sit down, sip my tea, and check my email getting ready for the day.
It's not my hillside. I have to walk past our property. And it's my neighbors' prerogative to build their fence; it's their land afterall. But there is no gate, and now, with the fence in place, there is no way through, not for me, my dogs, the coyotes, the skunks who live down the hill, the deer, or the raccoons. So a habit of many years is now ended. And I am, I'm afraid, a little bit sad.