an overnight at the cabin

After walking miles on Saturday morning at the zoo with my three-year-old grandson (and his parents and his infant baby sister), and then coming home and generally cooling off for a couple of hours, my wife, the dogs, and I decided to go to the cabin at Roundrock for an overnight. We didn’t leave until 4:00 in the afternoon, which, I think, is unprecedented for the lateness of our departure.

It was not our most productive visit to the cabin.

First of all, I know you’re thinking that you’ve already seen the photo above, and it’s true because you have. But in the month since my last visit (!) the wasps have been busy. Behold:

I think the work is done; there were no wasps working on this while we were there. Part of me wants to scrape all of that off of the cabin, but I’ve left a phoebe’s mud nest on the cabin (also under the porch roof) for years, and wasps are our friends. Still, I’m trying to arrange a power washer to clean the exterior of the cabin prior to re-staining it, and if I do, both of those mud structures will be gone.

My hope was to have a fire on Saturday evening to sit before and contemplate the universe and my sorry place in it, but when we turned off the paved road to bump along the two miles of gravel road to the cabin, we splashed through a bunch of puddles; rain had apparently fallen that very morning. If so, the kindling on the forest floor would be wet and might not catch no matter how much tinder I used. I had a copy of the local newspaper to use as my tinder, and since that resource is in good supply (and free), I wanted to see how well it worked.

I have built fires in twilight, but I wasn’t eager to do that this time, so once we got the truck unloaded, I began collecting kindling and crumpling the newspaper to serve as tinder. The kindling was wet, so I gave myself permission to use more than one match to get the evening fire going. I needn’t have bothered. The newspaper sheets burned quickly and were soon gone, and the smallest bit of kindling had the smallest orange flames licking on it as a result. They didn’t last long. The tinder was gone. The kindling was wet. My mood was dampened. So I didn’t try lighting the fire again. (Note to self: Brown paper bags make better tinder. They burn hotter and longer than newsprint.)

With no fire to sit around, and with far more than 12 hours already on my consciousness clock for the day, and with the sun setting behind the western ridge earlier than official sunset, we decided to retreat to the cabin for the evening. We had a new LED lantern we wanted to use (and promptly broke the older LED lantern). I sat at the table and made notes in my visit journal, and some notes for a story that was blossoming in my head all afternoon, and then retired early. Flike had gotten into my bed before me though and claimed pretty much the center of the space. Since there are still horseflies buzzing around, he’d had a bad afternoon, so I tried to ease into bed around him. His rapid panting soon subsided to gentle breathing, so I was glad of that.

I managed to sleep for nearly twelve hours. It’s a little indulgence I allow myself at the cabin (and it helps balance the rest of the time when I wake freakishly early). Then it was time to rise and see what might be done with the day. Outside the remains of my attempt at fire (above) reproached me. The air was cool — in the 60s — so a dip in the lake wasn’t going to happen. I thought about maybe cutting down a tree beside where I park the Prolechariot, but that never happened.

About all we did was make and eat breakfast (oatmeal, various fruits, coffee for my wife, tea for me, both iced and hot, both unsweetened) and sit around. She read while I continued making notes for that story. I would rise occasionally to throw a stick for Flike to chase and to make sure Queequeg hadn’t been carried off by a bobcat. But actual chores, like spreading more gravel or pulling weeds, or even wandering down to the dam to see how much worse the spillway had become, didn’t happen.

I think we only stayed long enuf for lunch because we had lunch to eat in the cooler. But once that was dispatched, we began the hour-long process of packing up and cleaning up so we could head back to faraway suburbia where there was indoor plumbing and hot showers.

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