I return to a Silverton under impending rain. Within hours, the metal roof of the housetruck is thrumming with cold drops, snaking down the road-dirtied windows. The storm becomes a torrent, breaking the record for that particular Thursday. The saturated ground surrounding the housetruck becomes a moat needing a sloshy crossing to enter and leave. Without a proper porch, my floor becomes a muddy track. The leaks which I thought I’d fixed mysteriously reappeared, and I end up siphoning a pint of water from the ceiling over the woodstove, which I light to try to dry out the moisture now fogging my windows and rusting the stove.

We get a relief of a day, but then a prediction of even more of the wet. Saturday morning, before dawn, I wake with the sound of rain again in my ears. I hear various clinks and taps, but cannot determine in my dark grogginess whether they are inside or outside — or perhaps outside becoming inside. I lay there, moping, feeling dejected. There is evidence of a mistaken turn, somewhere on that north-facing highway. Where did I go wrong?

The roof is too wet to attempt to climb up there and fix anything. Thoughts of tarps fill my waking head, various configurations that would keep the water away from the supposed entry points. I rack my brain for ideas of a dry, covered place to park the truck. Finally, sick of pondering, I rise and go into the house, this elderly bungalow where at least there is a solid roof and coffee to brew and distractions to take my mind off my sad, wet rolling home.

The truck has not had a proper cleaning-up since before Spirit Pine, so I take the opportunity during the less rainy parts of the day to move house: to transport all the various boxes, bags, clothes, bedding, even my desk and chair. I sort through the boxes of gear, packed so carefully two months ago, extracting objects and finding new places for them in what I call my “fixed house.” I set up my bed in the warm room I call my “library,” surrounded by the books of my life.

Back in the now-empty housetruck, without the warmth of fabric and the little items of everyday living, the interior looks lonely and dirty. To me, the truck has developed a bit of a personality, and just as neither it nor I enjoyed visiting either the chaos of the cities or the depression of the RV parks, now I’m seeing the housetruck really disliking the dampness of the Oregon winter. After all, it was never really built for this: it was built for warmer, sunnier times.

Gradually, almost painfully, I realize this is all as it should be. There is a message here, a gift from the wandering bird that often graces my journeys, underlines my current bearings. Here I am, in the Cascadian winter, a place and time of dormancy, reflection, hibernation. And yet my own movement is towards a shift in my life, an active transition to new projects, new values. I realize that it is the housetruck who needs a rest, to lay low, to recuperate, to wait out the storm. Maybe finding it a quiet, dry parking place wouldn’t be so bad for the next few months of the wet & gray.

As if to taunt me, the next morning is warm and sunny, a temporary spring in mid-December.

John Labovitz is an enthusiast of tiny houses, unique vehicles, surreal circuses, ragtag marching bands, and the open road. He is a maker of photographs and of books, and a sometime computer programmer. He spends his time discovering and photographing people and places around the world, but prefers to call it ‘borrowing’ souls rather than stealing. He makes his home where his hat is, although you might often find him in either the lush Willamette Valley of western Oregon or the placid hills of West Virginia’s eastern panhandle. When he grows up, John wants to be a vagabond.

Reach John by email, Facebook, or Twitter. View his photography, his blog of general writings, or his (obsolete) writings on technology.