Around dusk this evening I was pleasantly surprised to meet two of my neighbors who live in a house about fifty-feet south of my straw bale…on the other side of the fence.

John is 11 and his sister Jamie is 9.

Though they live next door—and I can hear them and their parents outdoor conversations and play—this was the first time we’ve met in the 11 months I’ve lived at my place.

They, along with the other children who live on my property, saw smoke billowing from my outdoor kitchen.

The kids who live on the property know what the smoke means… tortilla time!
A stampede of children arrived and asked if they could make tortillas with me.

I said yes and invited them into the outdoor kitchen they had already shuffled onto.

Making tortillas is one of my daily rituals. I use water, heirloom masa from Mexico, a makeshift tortilla press, and a propane burner.

Making tortillas is an art and a science that is simple, fun, and interactive. They also taste 10000000x better than pre-made tortillas. There’s also a deep sense of satisfaction when you make your own tortilla. The kids here love to help and often join me.

While an assembly line of kids were making tortillas, John and Jamie looked into my straw bale and were taken by all the “Indian things”. Flutes, feathers, branches and sticks, “animal furs” (rugs), ceramics, and other odds and ends.

They literally ooo’ed and ahh’ed as they peered into what I imagine through their eyes must have looked like a trading post from the 1700’s.

They told me that my flute playing is annoying to them and their parents.I listened, attentively, as they shared.

I then told John and Jamie that their sunset dirt bike, ATV, and go kart adventures are annoying to me.

They listened.

I then asked them if they hear the rumbling of the bombs in the distance (artillery training) from the Marine Base—or the helicopters in the evenings.

They said yes—and shared that it often keeps them and their family up at night.I shared that it keeps me up too.

I let them both know that the bombing and helicopters are more annoying than their dirt bikes.John agreed and shared that the bombing and helicopters are more annoying than my late night flute playing.

John then shared that once the flute gets into his head it helps him, and his family, to fall asleep at night.

I thanked him for sharing and let him know it felt good to hear him say that.
He then told me my new nickname, “Nature Guy.”

I smiled and told him he’s welcome to call me “Nature Guy” if he’d like.

Him and his sister laughed and started repeating, “Nature Guy, Nature Guy, Nature Guy!"

The kids took their warm tortillas and like the wind, one by one, blew out as as quickly as they had blown in.

“Bye Ken”

“Bye John, bye Jamie.

Nice to meet you both."

Jamie let me know she’ll be here tomorrow for the kids meeting and might see me… I smiled and told her I look forward to seeing her tomorrow.

I watched as the kids ran off into the sunset—towards the trampoline—to get a few more minutes of play in before parents, in all directions, would call them home for dinner.