This continues the story from last week…
The cabin I booked on airbnb was on a Christmas tree farm. The asphalt drive was freshly sealed, and I took it down to a neat gray house with a fieldstone base. Next to it was a big gray barn with a similar fieldstone base, stones probably plucked from the land.
Roy, the host, stepped from the house to welcome me, then said he needed to go back inside for about five minutes. He called over his shoulder, “Go ahead and check out the shed. I think you’ll like it.”
I looked around for anything resembling a shed, something like a suburban backyard shed, thin and short-lived.
Because the barn was the only structure other than the house, and because the barn door was wide open, I walked inside. It was dim and I waited for my eyes to adjust.
Something overhead caught some light. I looked up. It was a wooden pterodactyl, the kind they sell in museum stores as a kit, assembled and flying overhead. The wingspan had to be six feet.
I looked around. There was a knight in armor at the far end, hanging from a ceiling rafter, positioned where the cross would be if this was a church. There was a figure made from coffee cans at the knight’s side. There was a turtle made from a sledding disk and machine parts. There was more, so much more. There were so many things my eyes had trouble seeing them all.
I was standing in Trent’s barn, and I gasped.
Not his barn, because it was decorated by a different man, with different things. But these two men had decorated their barns like I’d not seen anywhere else, hanging whatever they loved wherever they pleased.
“Found you!” It was Roy. He took me on a barn tour, pointed out a few things, explained that the coffee cans next to the Knight were his Page. I wondered where Roy’s woodstove was. This man, in Wisconsin, has got to have a woodstove. It was off to the side, in a little room built with plywood sheets and draped blankets, like an indoor fort built by kids. It was the warming room for people who came to cut Christmas trees.
The last two things Roy pointed out were his mother’s Hudson’s Bay coat, the white between the broad yellow, red, and green stripes now a dusty brown. Hanging next to the coat was a pair of red and black plaid wool pants.
“Those were my grandfather’s hunting pants,” said Roy.
“Woolrich red plaid,” I replied.
Trent’s beloved Uncle OT had a Woolrich red plaid hunting coat. I had given Trent a coat just like it for our first Christmas.
Yep, Trent was making his presence known.
Roy led me back to the little cabin, driving his golf cart, followed by his aged border collie Beatrice struggling to keep up, followed by me in my Honda trying not to hit Beatrice. Outside the cabin, Roy gestured to the outhouse, then led me inside and showed me what I needed to know. He made sure I understood the difference between the wood stacked by the outside firepit (for making s’mores) and the wood stacked by the front door (for heating the cabin).
Back behind some trees behind the cabin, Roy showed me how to start the generator (like a pull-start lawnmower), but it kept dying. “Oh, I know how this goes,” I thought, but said nothing.
Roy said it probably needed a new sparkplug and headed back home to get one. I hauled my stuff from the car, remembered my flashlight, and went back for that. Roy and I passed on his way back to the generator. As I laid out my things so I could easily find them later, with just the light from a flashlight, the electricity came on. The cabin filled with light. For about five seconds. Then all the lights went off.
I needed to tell Roy what was going on.
Chewing the Cud of Good
Thankful for the pleasure of the company of a good dog.