REMEMBER A FEW DAYS AGO WHEN I POSTED A PICTURE OF AN OLD DEER BLIND that I declared I was going to turn into a tiny writer’s hut steeped in splendid isolation?
Buck did his part. He hacked a path to it with his antique 60 horsepower Case tractor. I took loppers and trimmed away undergrowth and overhanging branches. My romantic’s heart was going pity pat all the way. Then I removed the tiny lock and opened the door. Cockroaches leaped out. The smell coming from the old sculpted shag carpet that Harold and Buck had glued to the walls for warmth and soundproofing years ago was, um, how shall I put this? Disgusting. Yes. If I’m shooting for precision, that’s the word. Then there is that charming bright blue object that appears to be secured to a wall with string. Oh! It’s a homemade urinal. Wonderful. Aren’t boys delightful? I left the door open, took a step back on the landing and pondered. Nothing wrong with this a little elbow grease can’t fix! Hey, I’ll even bring over that pot of fragrant orange mint I have out in my herb garden. If I put it right under my nose, this could work. Or, I could strip out all that yucky carpet and paint the walls and floor in Day-Glo colors. I walked back to the house wondering whether I could link a bunch of outdoor extension cords together so I could carry the shop vac out there and vacuum up all the bugs and spider webs.
Dreams are fantastic. I always pay attention to mine and enjoy them, even though I hardly ever have a clue what they might mean beyond that I ate too many cut red peppers on my veggie pizza or too much dark chocolate before going to sleep. But the Snake Dream I had that night was something special. Memorable. Have you ever been bitten by a snake in a dream? Wow. That will stick with you. It was a diagonal slash across my poor left index finger. Fortunately, it’s still numb on one side from my biscuit/knife encounter. The weird thing — well, the whole dream was weird — is that the wound produced a cut that bled chartreuse. Ha!
The next morning, Danny the air-conditioning guy, came to replace a no-longer-functioning thermostat. Buck was outside fiddling with his pick-up truck. I waited for Danny to come in the house. He didn’t. I kept on with whatever I was doing. Then I looked out and saw that Buck’s truck was gone. Danny’s van was empty. They came back in about 15 minutes. Buck’s rifle was on his shoulder. Danny had seen a 5-6 foot rattle snake in the road near the stream bed where I walk every day. They didn’t find the snake. Buck likes snakes; understands generally how they behave, and is not quick to kill one. But a big rattler and my bare ankles traipsing up and down that path every day worried his mule. I thought of my dream the night before. I thought of the old deer blind. I thought of the brown and black widow spiders that I’ve photographed around here.
And then I had an epiphany. And I laughed.
Our house has a second floor with a guest room and covered deck, two unnamed storage rooms across a sort of bridge (I’ll post a picture sometime), and an open area at the top of the stairs that was originally planned for Buck’s work space. He even put an old desk he bought from the company he worked for and had the top refinished with smooth black laminate. So, in my mind, this has always been Buck’s space, and I essentially forgot about it. But you know what? He’s holed up in what we call the “Lodge.” It’s the original part of the house. It’s not exactly a “man cave,” but it’s a place where he can leave all his papers out and know no semi-OCD individual who hates dust will move his motes around. I come in and hang out with him there when we collaborate on editing decisions on his manuscript, or when we want to have lunch together and shoot the breeze. I keep my jogging shoes in there under his work table. Sometimes I entice him out for a walk (like today).
I asked him if he minded if I used that space. He said he’d be very pleased if I could get some use out of his old desk. I spent an hour cleaning and organizing (no snakes or spiders), and have been working up there every day for the last week. At night, I eat fig newtons and drink a glass of milk while I read, and listen to owls through the open window. No computer or phone allowed. It’s like being in a tree house. A big, beautiful, clean, good-smelling tree house with its own pool table. It sings.