Poppies filled the beds under the aspen trees. Fuzzy stalks, closed tops. On lonely afternoons mischief surfaced. Small hands found premature plants and little fingers went to work. Find the meeting joint, peel back and all will be revealed. It was a surprise each and every time. What color had she planted? Each died faster than planned. Exposed before ready. Markings made by spoiling, a trace back to action of curious and harmless intent. It was one of those irreversible things, one of those quick pleasures that ends at the beginning. Now discovered and forever lost - hurry on to find the next.
There used to be a candle factory turned fire-starter making station in the barn. From the main house facing Capitol Peak, turn right and head down. Inside there was a large vat next to a tall work table with high metal stools. The stools shrieked over cold concrete floor upon mounting. Sawdust everywhere. Wax dripping. Warm-gold glow. Sisters sat in snow boots filling small paper cups with mixture. Give it time, harden, ignite. This was all just a side operation to contribute heat. The radio was usually on and the smell was thick like butter. There must have been a dalmatian outside with the cats in the dark. Cold eyes peering in - awaiting entry.
Once the fire was switched off, it radiated that type of perfect heat - the kind that dies slowly. She used to sit there after all the lights had gone out. Stillness and settling structure were background to the process. On some nights this period was extended long into morning, either awaiting arrival or just refusing rest. A bellowing from above - the final good night - was a type of ritual. On cold stone, palms down, legs crossed, once again until tomorrow night.
The ditch ran through the front yard past the horses and disappeared under the large flower garden by the driveway. At the end of the season it was full of green algae and insect life. Crouch at the edge and watch the water skippers dance. With an easy leap one could gap the void, but the temptation to take the bridge survived. Built by young hands, the wood planks gradually curved. Up, rest, down. Grounded on either side, middle - floating. Creaks of remembrance. The sounds echo from the past.
Now we’re cooking he says. The garlic sizzles with oil in the pan. Elevated by plush green leather high stools, arms rest on wood chop block counter top. The space between us was a school for food. Commentary added as he ruled the kitchen. In winter small feet found radiated heat from below. Too close was too hot, contact - burn. Fancy lights on tracks above were always on dim, and the great wood table behind waited to support the coming meal. Tall candlesticks edged into lanky holders, wax drips over time. Cool air came from the sliding glass door to the left. Open, step, creak, and land. The extended deck led beyond to the stone garden beneath. Waiting, a mystery door painted purple. Bees swarmed here in summer. Pots of yellow flowers drew them near.
The black leather couch room was cold. Facing north, the long rectangular space was the quietest room in the house. Inside was one lonely closet, a full length mirror behind the door, and cookbooks that flooded the shelves. Bay windows on the far end let in light. There used to be a glass case that sat on the sill. It was propped up on little metal feet with a small glass door, holding objects on stacked glass shelves. Each collected object was monitored and cleaned regularly. All was smooth and polished. Take the objects out and hold them to the light. Rearrange and sit and wait.
Hidden behind old prom dresses and flush with the closet’s back wall, was a hinged wood panel. The latch of torn cloth was on level with the elevated garments. Climb up to the middle shelf and rest on knees to pull open. Access a secret space. Framed and planned, though unfinished, this room was considered. Above, a low ceiling ran full length with one bare bulb. Pull down, illuminate. Below, the wood platform was cluttered with old dolls and opened sleeping bags. This was a space for storage. Instead, habitation occurred. Living within the wall, closed in and out from the world.
The office bathroom was a significant space. The approach was an ascent up a narrow carpeted stairway to a floating loft - turn left - arrive. A white door opened to a white small room with each necessary fixture aligned against the back wall. Picture warm solitude. The true significance came though only from dreams. In deep sleep an invisible string could be found suspended, complete with a round hoop hook from the skylights above. Pulling down the string gave access to another stair, this one of wood, oriented north. Through the light opened another room - only visible from the inside. This room seemed infinite, as there were no signs of boundary. Heavy glass bowls of various sizes covered the tables. Time fogged over and translucency snuck in. Picture cold solitude
There once was an evergreen round couch of corduroy. Designed for two, but best for one, it sat knee-high on dark hardwood floor. A small stone fireplace burned to the right, and the remainder of living space opened to the left. Small skylights above brought in light, and the fire radiated warmth at night. An invite for gathering, the couch witnessed all stories. The most vivid of memories are of the all-dark house, curled up alone on that corduroy couch. Steeped tea in white plain mugs, gone cold, were home on the floor. While the fire sparked, the south windows let in darkness, and the cold rooms of closed doors echoed behind.
A dried-out blue hydrangea, propped up with clear scotch tape, was the welcome on the door. A varnished knob with a detailed rim squeaked slightly upon opening.The intimate room had eastern triangular widows following the pitch of the roof. Lined up straight on the sill were treasures from the past. There were photographs and memories in empty boxes, object relics of distant meaning and time. The sound of busy aspen leaves entered through a corner window, the same window that held terrors of dark entry in the night. The carpet was soft and speckled; the walls were light blue. The sleigh bed was green, the bookshelf a fire red. The north wall harbored the closet beneath, and above in orderly rows hung significant cards of wisdom and hope.