I’ve been to the ranch three times since we got back from Africa. This current visit makes the fourth. Bob was only here for two days when we first got back. He’s been surfing and visiting his dying grandmother in Seaside while I drive south to the ranch. He’s here with me now and I have to admit I like being in the Yamsi Valley more when he is with me. Sure, there are facets of it I like better when I’m alone: the quiet, the solitude, the getting in touch with Dawn-the-individual. However, Bob and I are so companionable and I feel more complete when he is here. Somehow I get more out of the hazy pink sunrises, and ice glittered winter willows when we share their beauty. I still read in the evenings but it feels more cozy having Bob sitting next to me with his own book to read. Also, I must admit, when Bob is at the ranch with me it is physically easier to be here.
I’ve split all the kindling for our morning fires and kept the water bucket filled (which means carrying 40 lbs of sloshing water 50 feet up an incline from river to cabin), but Bob has done the majority of the heavy work. He put up almost a cord of wood in three hours. During my past three trips it took me all day to generate as much. Since we heat our house in Bend almost exclusively with wood and since we didn’t get back from Africa in time to put up a season-long supply in town, we must get a load every time we come down here. I’ve been packing up the 4-Runner with firewood during each of my solo visits. It is enough for about two weeks of house heating. A lovely Lodgepole Pine fell across the road to the barn and it was premier firewood: dry but not old, straight-grained, pitchy, just a smattering of limbs. I figured it would take the better part of a day to limb it, pile slash, cut rounds, and stock the van with it. Bob had the task done before noon.
After lunch (which I prepared and cleaned up after; you know, the easy, warm, women’s work, which I prefer at times) Bob drove the old brown ranch truck to Chemult. He filled both fuel tanks along with six 5-gallon cans of gas to use in the generator, chainsaw, or whatever else our winter fuel needs might be. I love the old brown truck but I don’t trust it; the heater barely works, the power steering is shot so it drives like a tank, it is moody and stops or starts when it pleases. I despise driving it long distances, especially on the highway where it isn’t legal because we haven’t registered or insured it for more than a decade. Bob made the trip instead of me. Fortunately there weren’t any problems. During the dying light of these short days he worked in twenty degree weather to tack up the siding on the Dining Hall to keep blowing snow out. He picked up various cans, tools, hoses, picnic tables, lawn chairs and such that needed to be stored away for winter before getting completely buried under snow.
I, on the other hand, dusted and vacuumed the cabin, swept the shed, and put up new Solstice lights in the cabin. I’m so excited about my new lights because they are LED’s that run on DC power so I can have them on at night without running the inverter or using too much power.
There isn’t much snow, about 3 inches at the cabin, half a foot at Four-points. Bob encouraged me to take the time to go for a ski while he stayed home and worked. I drove up to Four-points and plied the powder for an hour. The sky was so clean and deep blue it tended toward purple. The Ponderosa Pines are dressed in frozen snow, the red-orange bark stark against the white canvass. I took Rio with me since there wasn’t much snow and it was frothy and gave way easily. I haven’t taken her skiing with me for quite some time and we were both joyous in each other’s company on such a pretty day.
Back at the cabin the temperature plunged fast with the sun lost behind Wild Horse Ridge as the day drew to a close. I filled the bird feeders, split a bit more kindling, and bumped into Bob as he gathered his last load of miscellaneous stuff destined for four months inside the barn. We gave pause to the hustle and bustle of ranch chores and watched, together, the alpenglow morph from orange to pink to lavender on the solid white summit of Yamsi Mountain. When the last of the color drained away and the thick, vaporous clouds from our breathing reminded us that night and its frigid cold was fast approaching, we silently parted ways. Bob trudged on out to the barn for a bit of last minute work while I slipped back into the toasty house. Don’t feel too bad for Bob though, he had a nice dinner waiting for him when he came in for the night.