Saturday, February 14, 2015

... and then there were two

My four months of solitude ended on Thursday in a cloud of whipped up snow and rotor noise as the helicopter set down in our meadow and my partner, veggies, antibiotics for my chronic tonsillitis and (unfortunately) the flu tumbled out.

To a hidden observer and even to myself, the desperate frenzy I flung myself into before my boyfriend’s arrival would have had quite the entertainment value. For days on end, I dashed through the cabin like a woman possessed, wielding a hammer, varnish, broom and dishcloth, slightly hampered by a sudden influx of translation work and the finally corrections of my first book. Bush life being what it is, my preparations for welcoming him home after all this time were focussed to putting the finishing touches on the furniture I’d built in his absence, putting away tools and stocking up on water and firewood instead of primping my hair and donning attractive clothes.

Apart from the supremely hideous shower stall, our tiny bathroom now features a sink. After washing in the kitchen for the last 16 years, my heart sings with joy each day as I make use of our new bathroom sink. The toilet remains where it belongs – outside, that is, where there’s a chance to watch the northern lights while occupied with more trivial matters.
And after years of perching our dinner plates on laps while sitting on the sofa, we now have a dedicated dining room table. The bench doubles as dog food storage (we currently have twenty 40lbs bags, the remainder of which are stored in a dog food closet and underneath the sofa). I also built doors and a pull-out storage box on casters for the huge pantry shelf that forms the third kitchen wall.

I’m usually struck dumb when I meet people again for the first time in months and stand mutely with a big a grin on my face, but somehow the helicopter didn’t chase all words out of my head – I’m proud to report that I was able to make halfway intelligent and intelligible conversation right away! In between unloading the chopper, bear-hugging my flu-infected boyfriend and inviting the pilot in for a cup of tea, I hopped around with the dogs in a little dance of happiness. While I am somewhat addicted to these long periods of loneliness, this has not been an easy one thanks to the dog emergency in November, the unusual lack of wildlife activity, my constant sore throat and the increasing frailty of my old dog.
I’ve rejoined the world of people, folks, and am wildly ecstatic about it.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Cold moon rising

When I walk north these days, the sun doesn’t spill my shadow as far ahead of me as it used to. Shadow woman stays closer to me now, at flat bluish puddle at my feet, while the sun swings itself a whole hand width above the mountains and pours more light onto the land each day. At winter solstice, it inched its way over the mountain peaks with only a finger width of sky to spare.
It’s cold; well, sort of: the -30s have finally found us, but thanks to the brilliant sunshine and our large south-facing windows it gets so warm inside the cabin I don’t have to heat much during the day.
My old dog now wears not only booties but a warm vest when we go out. He had three spells of extreme exhaustion and weakness over the last few weeks, and I’ve shortened our rounds even more. I’m beginning to practice my goodbyes to him. I snuggle with him on the large dog bed that catches the sun and from where we can look out on the lake and the mountains, and I memorize the feel of his head underneath my hand. I inhale his smell that now carries a faint undercurrent of urine again, just like when I picked him up as a puppy at the humane society.

I tell him stories of the past, of how he was smaller than my cat and just skin and bones and urine-matted fur. He remembers the word “kitty kitty” and pricks up his ears. We wander down memory lane to when we still lived with road access and had a truck – definite interest in his eyes as I mention “truck” -, and we relive the times he was a bad boy and chased after moose. He knows “moose”.
But mostly we lie quietly and soak up the sunshine that slides across the cabin floor until night falls and the moon rises and the cold with it.