Everyone had left and they were cleaning up.
“I come up here to retreat and relax, to sleep late and not care. I did not come up here to take up another cause like trying to get people in this fantastically weird place you call a neighborhood to agree to anything. You just get yelled at. People go to meetings to yell at anything that smells like government these days. Believe me. I did it for 25 years and it wasn’t as bad then as it is now. Who wants to spend their vacations doing this?” He was picking up empty paper plates and cups.
“People who want to protect their neighborhood from wildfire and meet friends. And there was no yelling, but the laughter was loud.” She was indefatigable. It drove him nuts.
“Bored old people who think the bingo up here isn’t lucrative. Rene told me they can win cars in California. Anyway, look around! Any of these older cabins could burn just from a chimney fire and take out the entire valley. Tree trimming lectures won’t cut it.” He had resumed his seat in the cushioned patio chair and was opening his third beer.
“There were more people at this potluck than ever before.” She placed a full garbage bag gently at the foot of his chair, open.
He ignored the gesture. “Free food. Look at Rene’s place. She hasn’t ever had the chimney cleaned that she can remember.”
“She’s eighty-something. Maybe she just can’t remember.”
“The chimney sweep guys won’t touch it - won’t even give her an estimate because it has like four wood stoves attached to it. It all needs to be ripped out and rebuilt. But she still uses the stove insert. She burns 30 year old construction scraps and newspaper in it to keep warm.”
“Don’t forget that electric heater in the bathroom right over the tub.” He wasn’t budging so she sat down in the other chair. She reached over for his beer and took a deep swig.