Saturday, July 26, 2003

Weekend blog. Items from the past, continued.

(Undated, but written in July 1989).

I'm sitting at the simple wooden table where we've been eating our meals, but which at times supports a propane lantern, or a clutter of magazines, drawing paper and more. The table is in the middle of the cabin, ringed by beat-up chairs. Beyond that are more chairs, the tatty couch on which I sleep (and nap), a stove we haven't needed yet, a nicked kitchen countertop-like platform, several shelves that serve as the pantry, all kinds of tools, and heaps of cast-off things, including a rusty old baritone horn.

The baritone and all the other things sit in a cabin built on the side of a hill, overhanging a creek. Beyond the stream is another hill, crested by pine trees but hardly dominated by them. Trees around here cling to their hillsides, which are otherwise brown and dusty. There are enough trees nearby to shade the cabin, and provide a bed of needles underfoot and a strong pine smell. At the bottom of the hill, the creek is barely visible, but you can hear the bubbling. It's otherwise so quiet around here that birds make the most noise -- except when the neighbors, about a quarter of a mile away, start their pump.

There's no running water in the cabin -- a well has yet to be dug -- so we have to go down to the creek to fetch it in buckets. There are two ways down, the long way, and the short. The long way is by the dirt road, which first goes up, and then down a steep, dusty grade; the short way is more or less straight down the side of the hill, via primitive footholds. The short way is short; but how to use it without falling, or tumbling, or twisting something?

Some people have that lightfootedness. They can go up and down steep slopes like chipmunks. My inner ear compass isn't all that I could wish for, so going down such a slope is slow going. Maybe I will improve with practice. I've had a lot of practice since coming to Idaho. Besides going for water, I've scampered up- and downhill to reach fishing holes, to summit the bare top of the hill out back for stargazing, and for a half-dozen other reasons. The essential fact of Idaho seems to be verticality. Except for the valley that contains Boise, all I've seen of the place is as rumpled as the blankets we keep on our beds. Everywhere hills.


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