i went the other way this time. a longer but scenic route; a two lane where passing is dangerous and oncoming cars frequently leave their lanes. the curves too hard to hold. the sun was low in the south barely cresting the tree line making long shadows across the road. the flickering light put me into an altered state as i travelled through what was to be the last of blue sky.
i passed a country house which featured a strange fruit of corvidae hanging from the branches by their frozen feet. feathered black drooping as only death does. perhaps the spirit crows shape-shifted into other forms.
hopefully to revisit these woefully ignorant lynchers with their supernatural medicine. the eyes that function as doorways to unknowable mysteries might draw from their trickster's tool bag to play havoc on that house this spring ; or so it goes in my karmic fantasy.
the black vultures roosting in the fire tower on 129 had no adversaries and their numbers impressed. i would never have noticed them in the green season but now that the world is spare they were startling silhouettes.
next came the apple house with the petting zoo that now contained concrete goats,sheep and pigs. the apple house was closed as well -odd for a friday in barely post-apple season. it should have been filled with tourists buying butters and cider, old timey hard candies and country trinkets.
on the final eleven miles to the west, the cohuttas appeared ultramarine like a blue whale had laid down on the horizon. the blue skies were behind me and ahead a heavy blanket of dull white with no hope of snow. my driveway appeared barren now that the trees had shed all their fall glory. the american flag cattle gate had rusted like a fall leaf and seemed a fitting metaphor for the nation in this moment and it let out a mournful song as it swung open. dropping below the road i rolled in slowly in case any animals were at the feeder. that would be the last chance i would have to see them because the hound, Trout, will have it creature free within 15 minutes after arrival.
tapping my loblolly of survival resources i made a meal of black beans and yellow rice and pistachio almond ice cream. i had one black tea bag left and 2 hot chocolates. the game is to stay the weekend without going out for groceries. there were frozen lima beans, eggo waffles, apple sauce, expired apple juice, a packet of tuna, and some frozen spaghetti sauce. in the cabinets was a mish mash of soups and canned vegetables, a box of mac and cheese and a box of vermicelli. all set then. looking for something to watch as i dined but avoiding all news, i happened upon the opening scenes of "the shining", quite possibly the most elegant horror film of all time. i marveled as i have many times at the lush cinematography the magic way movement is recorded and how tension is built through imagery.
we walked the perimeter and noted the limbs that had fallen, any changes along the creek side. the rhododendron was heavy from cold with only the tight buds for next summers blooms standing upright. a chickadee stood on a little mud-flat to drink and flew away as we approached. there weren't as many birds as usual - the feeder was empty though i filled it when i was last here. but its been almost a month. too long.
it was freezing cold. less than 30 and dropping in the twighlight. if it the sky was clear i would wait for the first star - most likely not a star at all, but venus and then jupiter. my planet. and my sky of sagittarius. it has been shining so brightly this winter.
if it was a clear night i would build a fire and stay out with perseus; i would be safe in his company as he holds the head of medusa in his hands. i remember this very scene on the side of a greek vase having shown it to my art students last summer. when i have guests to chickory i love to show them the double cluster, a mini milky way found near perseus. when the cabin was burglarized the telescope was taken - probably rolled up the the fabulously warm pine green cashmere blanket my mother had given me for a gift years ago. nights at the cabin have been much colder without it.
Trout's nose twitches and she is off on a hunt across the creek. i watch her climb the hill on the other side until she disappears over the ridge. i wont call. she wont come. until she is ready. i found a few larger limbs that were great for a fire but too long. i fit them into the vise of a double trunked tree and pushed until i felt the satisfying snap - the bright white dry wood inside revealed in a jagged end. i spent the very last of the light taking the limbs to the fire pit.
the chicks were waiting for me at the door. i took them up into my arms and cradled them above the propane heater until the shivering stopped and put them in their kitchen basket. i offered them some yellow rice and smashed bean, corn and a piece of chocolate chip cookie. the cabin is warm in this room but in the bedrooms very cold. i prep my bed as Trout pushes the door open and barks for dinner. I watch a little telly and then fire up my laptop to find an archived podcast. this one is on the codex alimentium: the control of food. it should be good and spooky for this winters eve. under the covers but still dressed in shirt layers, flannel pants, and socks. any part of my body exposed is cold. I cant count on Trout for warmth, she likes the chair by the fire. when i wake up it is 12:30 and the podcast has ended. before i fall asleep again i hear a dog barking far away and take comfort that at least on this night, that dog isn't my own.