The morning of our second day dawns cool and crisp. Fog hides Cougar Knob in a gray veil that flows onto the edge of the front lawn. In five minutes I have a fire going in the huge rock fireplace in the living room. I sip the coffee Jim brings me while taking my daily dose of spiritual nourishment. Reading the Bible and spiritual books are medicine to my soul.
If taking naps, eating and reading can classify as vacation activities, I was wholly engrossed in them all day yesterday. The nearest thing to work I did was cleaning the kitchen. It appeared the last tenants probably had better things to do than clean. By late afternoon, the high, white and fluffy clouds that had marched across the sky in such an orderly fashion, had somehow gotten tangled up, tripped over one another and landed in a big black pile over our mountain.
By four o'clock, we were tired from resting and felt a walk was in order. So, we set out down the driveway. All along the way we remarked on and wondered in amazement at the storm clouds that continued to churn and billow into towers of dark and menacing ramparts above us. At the end of the driveway, we thought better of it and turned back toward the cabin at a brisk pace, "to beat the rain", we said.
Once again, there we were, hard at rest: Jim perched in a chair on the porch, absorbed in the detailed script of another Tom Clancy novel, and me lying in the grass watching the clouds from the front lawn.
About an hour and two Twinkies later, guilt overtook us. We determined to once again attempt to hike before sundown, with the goal of actually leaving the driveway this time. We forgot to celebrate our accomplishment when instead; we turned right on the forest road and headed for the high mountain meadow a mile further down the road. We had only traversed a tenth of the distance when we came upon two cars parked on the side of the road.
Approaching the vehicles, we saw two men and a woman. One man was older than the other and the young woman was holding a baby in her arms. The baby was facing our direction. I glanced at the young man, then at the young woman and noted an uncanny resemblance. Then I turned my gaze toward the baby and was taken aback at the wide-set intensely staring eyes looking at me just above the cleft palate stained with dirt and drool. It is clear to see that this family's tree did not fork too far. A happy baby with a one-toothed grin. I couldn't help but coo at the little one and tell her mother how precious her baby was. Every mother should hear this about their baby.
After a brief greeting, we learned that one of their cars would not start. The young man, woman and baby were preparing to climb into the other car. The older man indicated they were going to locate a car part that he believed would remedy their predicament.
The older man was the most talkative of the group and shared that they were there fishing and indicated the direction of their activity with a wave of his hand toward the vicinity of the woody, overgrown field behind him. He told us that somewhere in that dense jungle, his wife was still fishing. "If you say so," I think to myself, resigned to believe him despite not being able to discern a pond, let alone his wife among the brambles, overgrown thickets of underbrush and tall snaky grass that a bush hog would have trouble cutting through. "Perhaps they've murdered her and have made up this story to throw us off, I thought. Don't be daft silly, you're confusing this situation with "Deliverance," I retorted to myself."
We said goodbye and continued our walk to the high mountain meadow. Someone had written in the guest journal at the cabin, that there were now horses being kept in the meadow and I wanted to see them.
That person was wrong, as we found upon arriving at the meadow. It could be they mistook the horses of campers who often come to this area to camp and release their horses to graze, for permanent residents. All we could see was the overgrown meadow grass, gently waving and bending in the breeze and the sprinkled color of summer wild flowers bowing their heads in homage to the scene around them. It's hard to believe it was covered in snow and the wind was howling through the barren forest the last time we were here. Just over there is where we saw the tracks of an Eastern Cougar in the snow on that cold day two and a half years ago. As we stood there remembering, the wind picked up as the clouds darkened across the forgotten meadow where nothing was held in by the encircling weathered fence posts, not even the wind. Beautiful, wild and free it blew and left me standing happy that we came, content to see and know that when our occupancy here is completed, beauty, life and time carry on as though they had not noticed us at all.
We made tracks fast on the return trip to the cabin. Around time for dinner a tremendous downpour came just as we were ready to put the Bratwurst (that had slow cooked in beer) on the grill. No matter, we just covered it with aluminum foil to keep the rain off and continued cooking.