The woods have a wonderful silence to them; the boughs are baffles, muffling sound, making the air heavy and still. I imagine having a clearing in the woods so a bit of light can get in. In the clearing is a japanese style pavillion, dark thick wood braces and paper screens. It is empty of all clutter, my private space, quiet and peaceful, where I can just think and work and be alone.
There are actually lots of huge wooded properties for sale out not too far from Seattle. I think the best nearby place is out in the Snoqualmie river valley, around Duvall/Carnation/Novelty Hill. You can get 40 acres for around $600k which is pretty stonkering. 40 acres is enough that you can put a little building in the middle and not be able to see or hear a neighbor at all. It also seems like a pretty good investment. It's inevitable that the suburbs will get built out to there eventually, and then all that land could be worth a fortune. This is why I've never understood living in traditional suburbs; if you go just another ten miles out you get to real country where you can have big wild property with woods and gardens and isolation, for less money!
But then I start thinking - if I'm going to live in the middle of nowhere, why live in the middle of nowhere near Seattle? It's too far to really go into the city on any kind of regular basis, so I may as well just live in the countryside in CA or Spain or Argentina or somewhere with better weather.
Living in the country is really only okay if I'm married or something. If I'm single I have to be in the city. Even if I am with the woman I love, moving out to the country is sort of like retiring from life. It's changing gears to a very isolated, simple life. That's very appealing to me, but I don't think it's time for that phase of my life just yet.
Lately I have been taking lots of walks around Seattle U. It has pretty nice grounds, with lots of little hidden gardens tucked behind or between buildings where you can stroll or sit. I love the feeling on a college campus. You can just feel the seriousness in the air. Even when there are lots of kids around there's a feeling of quiet and solitude; maybe it's because the big buildings create a sort of echoing canyon that changes the sounds.
I miss having deep intellectual problems to work on that you really have to go and think about for a long time. Even though I'm sort of doing research right now, it's engineering research, where my time needs to be spent at the machine writing code for test cases, it's not theoretical research. It's really a delightful thing to have a hard theoretical problem to work on. You just keep it in the back of your mind and you chew on it for months. You try to come at it in different ways, you search for prior art papers about it. All the time you are thinking about it, and often the big revelation comes when you are taking a hike or something.