Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Decoding the Petroglyphs

Caretaker’s Log, Sunday, May 31, 2015

I wake up suddenly at seven o'clock feeling that I've overslept. I rush downstairs only to discover Gerry is not yet up. It wasn't a slamming door that wrenched me from sleep. Hmm. I prepare coffee, whisk up some eggs to scramble, set out the bread and banana bread, and slice up cantaloupe all the while glancing up at the clock. The seconds tick on into minutes. Gerry is still not up at 7:50 and I'm beginning to worry. My imaginative mind goes to the worst-case scenario and I wonder who I would call first if I discovered he had died. The Forest Service, 911, Porgy, my mom?

I wait on the porch with the cat. I don't want to jump to conclusions but this feels out of the norm.

It's a beautiful day only marred by my worrying speculation.

Finally, at 8:05, I go knock on the door to Elk Cabin. Gerry is slightly hard of hearing so I knock as loudly as I can. After three sessions of knocking, I go in. Gerry wakes up when I call his name and touch his shoulder.

"It's Sunday," he says, "I was sleeping in."

Wish someone had told me the weekend rules, I think. I don't tell him, "I thought you were dead." Instead, I go inside and turn on the stove for eggs and after a while Gerry comes in.

He goes to work about nine o'clock, fixing the road by the barn and making a parking lot up at the Industrial Park.

Porgy calls to check in and to find out Gerry's plan. That's something I would also love to know.

I write up and post a blog. The temperature is rising with the climbing sun. It's much too nice a day to be inside.

At some point I had told Gerry about visiting the petroglyphs and at breakfast he’d said, "We should hike over there."

About eleven o'clock, I go outside. Gerry stops working and we walk to the undisclosed place where the petroglyphs are etched into the rock face. On the way, he points out a yellow warbler and names some of the flowers that decorate the path.

We see an osprey. Nearer to the cliffs a red tailed hawk soars over, crying her lonely and beguiling cry.

Gerry decodes the petroglyphs. They are much less primitive than how I’d had seen them. It’s not the figure of a warrior holding a trident riding some beast. He shows me the outline of an elk, the faint lines of a bighorn sheep. Now I see it myself. We pick our way over boulders and loose rocks looking for other images. There's a spot with tiny dots made by a sharp pointed instrument. Gerry says the Indians were known for that design. After a while, we work our way down the slope and head lodgeward. We stop at a tree and have a snack of an orange, a Lara bar, dried apricots, and Brazil nuts.
(This photo was enhanced with computer graphics. The actual petroglyph remains untouched.)

Back at the Lodge, Gerry gets back to work. I take a quick bath and put on my around the lodge clothes. The walk was nice, but now I'm disgruntled. Will he never leave? Why doesn't he just leave? I had told him of my wish to have one last day to myself and asked him what his plan was. His answer was unspecific and I didn't force it. I should have. Because if I'm not going to get any last time to myself just let me know so that the hope for it doesn't linger like a sickness.

Still in a bit of a mal humor I go out to where Gerry is driving the backhoe back around to the new propane tank area. He’d asked for my help in building a rock wall to keep the dirt over the propane tanks from sifting down onto the road. He’d said it’d be helpful to have other pair of eyes to see how things might fit together.

We make an awesome wall. Fitting stones together is like working a jigsaw puzzle. I'm good at it.

"You're hired," Gerry says. And then when we’re nearly done he goes on, "If you ever want a job I'll give you a good referral." And also, "You turd." When a rock I’d chosen pairs perfectly with the one already in place. We work from four o'clock to just about seven and get it done.

"The more I get to know you the better I like you," Gerry says. "You're good people."

I may be good people, but I still want him to leave.

I rush back to record the weather. I start boiling rice and prepare the last two pieces of cod for dinner.

I can't find one of the little baking sheets that I use all the time. I look all over the kitchen and can't imagine where it could be. I want to use it to make garlic toast for Gerry. Oh well, it’ll show up sometime. I use a larger pan instead. When I open the oven door to put in the fresh toast I discover the garlic toast I'd made for him last night and apparently never served. It's quite well done.

Building the wall has dispelled my bad mood. And I know I won't get any part of today alone. Adapt and move on. Get over myself.

After dinner I tell Gerry I'll beat him at Gin. I bring out the bottle of rum I’d bought in Pinedale. "You little alcoholic," Gerry says.

I beat him at Gin and we have a fun time playing. It's after eleven o'clock when the game is over.

I'm prepping the kitchen for the night. Gerry comes in, touches my shoulder and I turn. He puts (what I sincerely hope is) a chaste kiss on my nonresponsive lips and gives me a hug.

He goes off to Elk Cabin and I go upstairs. It's not exactly that I don't trust him, but I turn the lock on the loft door and get into bed. People complicate things. Men complicate things.

Caretaker’s Log, Monday, June 1, 2015

June is here.

I think the little ditty from Willy Wonka, "In springtime the only pretty ring time. Birds sing, hey, ding a ling a ding. Sweet lovers love the spring." And the line from the song in Alice in Wonderland sung by the flowers, "You can learn a lot of things from the flowers especially in the month of June."
I sleep in until about 7:45. I'm downstairs by eight o'clock. Gerry has water boiling and is surprisingly quiet around the lodge. He's trying to give me a day to myself. He makes his own breakfast. I don’t know how to explain the difference between being left alone and being alone.

I have a cup of coffee. I don't have much to say. So I don't say much.

Gerry tells me he's going to do a few hours of work and plans to leave sometime after noon.

"Okay," I say. I'll believe it when I see it.

In a way, I get a morning to myself. After Gerry has gone out to work, I make a three egg omelet and eat alone at the table. Then I take my notebook outside and sit in a chair with the cat nearby and brainstorm solutions to making my book better using the input I've received from my friends.

I get a little sunburned.

I drink four cups of coffee.

It's a nice morning—even with another person on the property.

Gerry comes in a little after twelve o'clock and makes a sandwich. He's really trying hard to give me a day off. I appreciate the gesture and the consideration, but he's like the policeman in The Pirates of Penzance who say, "Yes, yes, we go, we go!" And I'm like the Major General who, beginning to become exasperated, says, "Yes, but you don’t go!"

Tarantara, Tarantara!

"Did you get some writing done?" Gerry asks.

"A little bit of editing work," I say.

Finally, after he fishes for a bit in the beavers’ pond he packs up and does go. For half an hour after he's driven up the road, I still hear the sound of a chainsaw. He's cutting firewood. Then, eventually, nothing. Peace. Solitude. Calm.

I call my mom and we catch up. I do my laundry while we talk. Then I call my grandmother and we catch up.

I hang my laundry to dry. Some of it over the fire I’ve lit and some draped over the outside chairs. After that, I can breathe. No one to look after. No one to play host for. It's like a relaxing. If that were a noun.

I take a glass of wine and go outside. I sit on a chair in the sun and then switch seats so my back is to the sun. All I hear is the fussing of the ground squirrels, a distant sap sucker knocking on wood, the rush of the river, the chirping of birds, the wind in the trees.

One last blessed time like this.

At some point I get up and go look at the rock wall. It really does look good. I'm proud of it. While I'm in the vicinity, I get a dozen eggs and some cans out of the root cellar and take them inside.

The cat is on the porch when I come back out. I bring a second glass of wine along. I turn over the clothes I'd draped over the chairs to dry in the sun and wind and sit back down. The cat joins me.

Soon enough, it's time to record the weather. 69 degrees for today's high.

A tremendous, dark cloud moves over bringing the promise of a storm. Porgy calls to see what food to bring tomorrow and to find out how the weather is. He says Wilson is getting strong, tree-felling winds.

Just after we hang up the wind picks up. I go out on the porch and watch the lightning, listen for the thunder. I watch the clouds shift and move. The lightning flashes. The thunder rattles. It's a good storm.

I eat tuna for dinner.

I send out a few emails.

I fill my glass of wine and watch a show.

I’m alone. It’s glorious.

Caretaker’s Log, Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I wake up from a quasi-nightmare in which I'm back together with an ex-boyfriend. The whole dream I'm trying to figure out how to tell him I'm breaking up with him, that we’re not really together anyway. I'm sure this dream is my subconscious mind’s way of dealing with Gerry's attention, however innocent or not it was.

I get up around 7:15. I don't want to waste any alone time. Porgy calls at 7:30 to check on the weather. To say he's on his way in.

I work a crossword. Drink my coffee. Talk to the cat. Get online for little bit to check up on things. Eat an omelet for breakfast. Just as I'm finishing my meal, I see a car coming in. It's only 9:15. I've had just at 19 hours to myself. Not that I'm counting.

These guys are here earlier than I had expected by about an hour. The first one in is Aaron. He gets right to work buffing. He’s got a full day of work ahead of him and buffing is tiring. Right behind him are the propane guys, Porgy, and the guys from JB.

They fill the new tanks with propane, empty the old ones, load up old tanks to take them out, connect the lines.

Lunch is sandwiches and salad.

I clean the lunch things up. Then I clean out the grease trap, add CCLS to the septic system, and then clean both bathrooms.

The guys have unhooked the old propane and have to check for leaks in the new line before I can use the stove or oven. I had planned to heat up a casserole, but it needs at least an hour to warm up and the evening is getting eaten away with waiting. I change gears and decide to make rice noodles with egg instead.

Aaron finishes up and leaves. The propane guys leave. Only three guys to make dinner for. Easy peasy.

The guys talk old stories of repairs and work and jobs over dinner. When the cat jumps up on her table to eat her food, I go out to give her some more and say hi. Then I clean up the dinner dishes. It's already nine o'clock and I want to get it done and go up to bed.

The guys are out of the lodge by 9:45.

I go upstairs.

The crew supposed to come in to stain the lodge has changed their plans and won't come until Friday. There's a chance the guys from JB and Porgy may leave after lunch tomorrow and I could possibly, hopefully have a bit more time to myself. It'll be the last opportunity for that, Laura arrives sometime on Thursday.

Soon, now only days away, my caretaking time will be over and I’ll shift gears and become a ranch hand for the summer.

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