This winter has been a hard one for me. I have been without my mountain fix. For many years, I was able to get away from it all and come up to this corner of heaven to regroup. But this year, the mountain house was rented to a wonderful group of friends who were using it as a writer's getaway. This is the first weekend that it is available again.
As we drive up, there is a question of being able to get there. This last week we had a surprise May Day snow storm that dumped a ton of white stuff everywhere. Now we are just 15 minutes away and we have had smooth sailing, no snow is left on the roads.
The girls, Susie and Sarah have always known that there is magic in the dirt road. At the sign warning us of the impending end of asphalt and civilization, we begin to count down, 5, 4, 3, 2 and ONE! We know that we are so close when we hit that bumpy, beautiful, uncomfortable dirt road. We have passed through a portal not unlike those found in a science fiction story.
As we leave the pavement behind, we take one right turn and one left turn off of the main road. We pass familiar sights: the A-frame cabin, the odd round house and what is left of a very old one room log school cabin. As we get to the apex of the driveway we all look over the dash board to view its condition. "Is is clear? Will be able to make it down? Do we need to get out and shovel?" "Yes, yes and no." We all breathe a sigh at the knowledge that we will not have to get cold and wet before we can get in; the drive way is clear of snow!
I can't describe the feeling that I get every time I look at the house from the top of the driveway. I can see everything. I can see the red canoe that sits waiting to be taken down to the lake or out to a river. I can see the wood pile that represents many hours of chopping. I can see the log splitter that looks like a steam punk version of a torture device.
I remember the last time that I saw my dad bent over it, oblivious of my car, he was surrounded by the noise and smoke of the gas engine and the smell of freshly split logs.
When he finally noticed me, he stood straight and waived with his gloved hands and went back to work. Eager to finish the job.
I don't think that my dad is
naturally industrious. I believe that like most human beings he would rather be sitting in his comfy leather chair doing a sudoku puzzle. Yet, he has managed to accomplish so very much. While working full time as a teacher, he built the house we lived in and then in retirement, he decided to do it again. He is a tool chest full of information and is quite naturally a problem solver. I wish I was more like him.
From the top of the driveway, I can see the deep front porch with Cameron's tin sculpture, the old bench swing and the green painted screen door. In my memory I can hear it swing open and slam shut and the booming bark from big beautiful Jasper as he comes running out to greet me. He would run at me in a lope to beat me out of the car. Jasper would try to get as close to me as possible, as if pressing his body along side mine was his way of hugging me. The mountains are not the same without him. Although, I generally keep it to myself, I miss him terribly.
From the vantage point of the top of the drive way I can see the corner of the back porch. That corner is one of the nicest places to sit all year round. There is usually no wind and the southern sun keeps is warm and cheerful. It is also Nana's favorite place to toss unsalted peanuts to the critters. First it was just the pair of chipmunks that she saved, but soon she began to feed the rabbits and especially the bossy blue jays. Personally, I would have tried to push them away, but not Nana. She loves all the critters and finds joy in each one. From the top, you can also see Nana's flower garden. Despite the harshness of life at 8300 feet, she has been able to plant a lovely mix of native plants and some of her favorites. Today it is covered with snow, but there are signs of spring if you look. A tree has fuzzy pussy willow blossoms on its tips and I can also see green pieces of the poppy plant coming up.