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August 2017

The Oldest Cabin

It was a surprisingly small machine that began the undignified work of razing the little old red cabin. The sturdy place took the pounding insults for much longer than it took to finish our drinks while we watched from Rene’s porch.

A young man rode a small bucking bulldozer that bashed at the corner beams. With each hit of the bucket he bounced out of his seat. He would have come off completely if he hadn’t been strapped in. He dramatically tossed his helmet away at one point as it was a little too large for his slim damp head and kept falling over his eyes.

“It seems like an inefficient way to do that, doesn’t it?” Rene gingerly maneuvered down the stone stairs with her overfull cup.

“A match would have been whole a lot easier.” She immediately regretted saying it and spent the next several hours assuring Rene that she was only making a joke.

The little red cabin had to go. There was no foundation, the fireplace was falling down, the outside stairs to the bat-filled loft had rotted away, and the whole place smelled like rotten meat. It sat on the premier site at a bend in a deep trout-filled river where a wealthy young doctor and his wife wanted a new fishing cabin.

It was the oldest cabin. It was there before the ranch sold off that portion of their land in the fifties to a local boy who had promised to make the 80 acres into a nice fishing resort but carved it into tiny lots instead. He became president of the local bank.

When the roof finally toppled over they cheered along with the crew. But it was sad. 


All That Glitters

Strolling along Main Street Durango, I feel like a local, even if just a summer local. I hit the regular spots - Carvers, for a beer, Maria’s Bookshop for a guide to mushrooms, Dancing Willow for tea and soap, Southwest Sounds for Courtney Barnett. This day I feel especially good, striding and smiling like I own the town.

And then I got to the pet store. I plopped a bag of dog food on the counter and the proprietor pulled me aside. I briefly imagined he might ask for my number or praise my customer loyalty. Instead he tells me my fly is down.

Yes, the gold zipper on my black pants was wide open. The inexplicably bright adornment on my otherwise head to toe black outfit drew the eye immediately. If my crotch had been adorned with diamonds that day it would have gotten less attention than that bright shiny glittery gold zipper.

The Bear

A bear came around the corner. I was sitting on the porch writing. We shocked each other. I think I said “Whoa!” or “Hey!” or something and waved my papers. He was youngish. Very black and shiny. He made a little surprised grunt and took off running across the meadow before the dog saw him and started barking.

So your writing scared him off?



Cabin 6

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.


Cabin 7

Three women are sitting outside on the patio in the sun drinking box wine out of paper cups as the sun gets low in the narrow mountain valley.

“Did you see any of those blackbirds in your kitchen last night?”

“No, but I keep my bedroom door shut and I wear earplugs. I can’t hear or see a thing!”

“Well that fixes it then.”

“It was a bat, not a bird, Mom.”

“Oh now, we don’t know that for sure. Rene said she saw a bird. So it could have been a bird. A black bird.”

“At night? Inside?”

“Thrushes migrate at night.” A male voice came from a dark corner of the porch behind them. He sounded like smoke and summer napping. “Except the robin. No idea about blackbirds.” He coughed softly.

“Thrushes aren’t migrating around inside Rene’s cabin!” The young woman disliked the way he was always confusing the old lady.

“And they aren’t black!” The woman said, amused.

Rene stiffened. “What did you say about Robin?”

“They don’t migrate at night anyway.” The man said.

“Robin got a divorce, you know. Did you say she's dating a black?”

“I heard she left him in the daytime.” The man added.

Rene showed them the rusted gutter and how water was flooding the porch after every rain.

"You should get a rain barrel from Walmart and set it there under the leak. I've got one and it's so nice to water the plants with that soft rainwater!"

"Really Lou? A barrel in the middle of the porch? Maybe Rene should open a bat zoo and mold emporium instead of fixing the roof."

Rene said, "I love zoos!"