Thursday, June 12, 2014

Last Days

Caretaker’s Log, Sunday, June 8, 2014

There’s a spattering of rain on the skylights. It’s my last day at the Darwin. Coffee is my morning priority. Karen brought me some cans of coconut milk and that makes me happy and the coffee extra delightful.

I see two deer in the west field. I comment about them so long that Loring gets up to look through the binoculars at them as well.

It’s leftover oatmeal for breakfast. I get the dishes cleaned up then go say goodbye to the cat. She wants me to stay with her all day out in the barn so I can scratch her ears. I fill up her food dish and give her some cat treats.

I recharge all the batteries for the electronic devices I’ll want on the road. I collect my coat and jackets and put them upstairs in preparation to pack them.

At noon I take a cleaning bucket over to the Willow cabin and start in on the kitchen. 
It rains.

It hails.

The sun comes out.

We have lunch. I finish up the cleaning at 3:15. I’m exhausted.

I go sit on the porch with Boss at my feet and try to ease the cricks out of my neck and shoulders.

I’ve spent hardly anytime outside today until this moment. I was feeling disconnected. To remedy this and to get some late afternoon sunshine, I go to the sauna porch and listen to the river. The swans rise up off their pond and take a three lap constitutional, flying right over me at times. They honk like geese and the sound of their wings is a heavy, thick treading of air. They fly with their long white necks stuck out far in front of them. This is a good place to be in the afternoon.

Caretaker’s Log, Monday, June 9, 2014

Up early. I change the sheets one last time. Straighten the last minute things up. Prepare the room for the summer cook who will be the next loft resident. Put my bags on the front porch. Breakfast is yogurt and fruit and pan cooked potatoes.

I go out to the barn and give the cat a final ear scratch. She’s happy.

I wash up the breakfast dishes.

Around 10:00, Karen, Boss, and I get in the suburban and head away from the Darwin. “You can cry if you want,” Karen tells me. I’d told her that I was feeling oddly nostalgic, especially about leaving the cat. “That’s what happens when you get older,” she’d said.

I don’t cry.

We see some herds of antelope along the way.
Boss wants to sit in my lap. Karen pulls over and arranges his bed in the back. Puts him in it.

Goodbye, Darwin.

Down the road we go. Then. In the distance the wheel stirred dust of the road rises like a cloud. Another truck. Oh my god, the traffic! One truck is not traffic, I tell myself. You are going to freak out when there’s really traffic. You are in for a shock any second now. Wow. I calm myself down. I know this vehicular life too. I know how this works.

It’s 330 miles, a 7 hour drive from the Darwin to the Ishawooa Ranch. Karen tells stories of past caretakers, her family, their ranch hands. We stop twice for food, once for bottled water. I get over the shock of traffic, housing developments, towns.

Wyoming is amazing country. I’m reminded of Colorado and of the Sacred Valley in Peru.

We arrive to the other ranch around 6:00. Just in time for dinner at the lodge. It’s a strange assortment of people, crew, and Karen’s family. A nice group. A good dinner.

After dinner, at Karen’s suggestion, I take a walk to see the river. The mountains are walls around me. The moon a decoration in the dusk sky.

My phone is once again in service. I use it to call my grandmother. It’s so easy to communicate now.

I wash all my clothes, all at once, not by hand. I dry them in the dryer. It’ll be nice to smell fresh and clean. It’ll be nice to be all fresh and clean.

I pack my clean things up and get set to go to sleep in the wrangler cabin Karen has put me in for the night.

I sit on the bed and think. I’ll be on a bus headed to Oregon tomorrow. I’ll finally get to see Montana. I’ve got my summer schedule to arrange. I’m no longer a caretaker. My caretaker logs are concluded for now.

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