A Love Story
by Calendar Hacksaw
The deadline for this month's column's been creepin' up on me faster than a pair of WalMart boxers, and I mean to "put it to bed" quicker than a pint of slow gin on prom night, if you'll excuse the expression. The Editor called me at 2:00 a.m. this morning, but I didn't think I knew anyone named "Zanutto," so I hung up and went back to my typing. She called right back and shouted, "Calendar, don't worry about the word count; let the column jump to another page like Moody does! Write your heart out!" So I hung up on her again. I hate those kinda calls.
It's winter - what you might call the "dead of winter," if you're some sort of devil worshiper, and ol' Calendar hasn't seen the Twisted Sisters spread since mid-December. This is a forlorn time, waiting for the thaw and the prospect of the first visit of the new year. We go through this every winter, us weekenders and part-timers. It's grueling, to be sure. But there is work to be down here on the flatland, and we must attend to it. Such is our existence, and the price we must pay to enjoy what the full-timers experience year-round. So in our garages and family rooms we attend to our tasks. We re-web the folding chairs, check our portable propane tanks, put new mantles on the lanterns, sharpen the saw blades, and change the oil in the generator. We fix whatever needs fixin' on the 4x4's, sew up our mountain clothes, surf the catalogs for new products to make our visits more enjoyable (impossible!), write these stupid columns, listen to music that reminds us of Twin Oaks, and mark the calendar for the main events: duff-clearing weekend, Labor Day, and the deer opener.
During the holidays two months ago came cards and letters from family and friends, occasionally accompanied by a news clipping from the Californian with a dateline of "Twin Oaks," "Havilah," or "Caliente;" something they thought we'd be interested in - and we always were - but it also served as a bittersweet reminder that months would pass before we'd see the ranch again.
So while we attend to our chores, our minds wander, and soon we imagine that we are driving through Caliente Canyon, listenin' to the jukebox at the Dinner Bell, reading the blackboard at the General Store, sitting around sharing squat with Lynne, or talking about the challenges of rhea ranching. This is our relief from "life" in the city, pondering the complexities of the door blowing off the outhouse again, or vandals smashing a window, wondering how we will dislodge the rodents and restore order within the framework of the Geneva Convention.
January First is when depression bottoms out and anticipation begins to build from the soul up. While others are inside watching parades and bowl games, I'm out in my shed, writing letters demanding that the State Board of Education recognize Okiebonics as a distinct language, researching my family tree to make sure Moody ain't my brother, or just trying to get this gol-durn, second-hand barometer to say something besides "29.97."
And speaking of food, there are certain tastes I associate with our trips to the mountain; menus that I avoid during the "off season," lest they become too familiar. Tri-tip with teriyaki glaze, for one, with golden hominy on the side and local honey from the Onyx Store. Oh, the mere thought of it sets ol' Calender's mouth to watering! Sitting outside at dusk with a good chardonnay, watching the bats flitter around the lanterns, with the scorpions dancing at our feet. Scorpions at 7,000 feet, you ask? You bet! Only the best for Hacksaw!
The seasons come and go. And here we are in February, knowing that we are less than two months away from April 6th, the start of Daylight Savings Time, which signals the resumption of weekend visitation rights. Maybe we'll get the light installed in the outhouse this year, put up some solar cells, or erect a "real" TV antenna. Maybe I'll be able to convince Betty that 12-volt, deep-cycle, marine batteries really do make nice looking occasional tables, if arranged properly (I tried this once before, but Betty filed strenuous objections, which were ultimately upheld in U.S. District Court). Maybe we'll find the right Okie for granddaughter Persephone to marry, hopefully one she'll take a likin' to. She's starting to warm up to the idea.
One thing's for certain: the season will bottom out long before we reach the end of our "to do" list, and long before we're ready to call it quits for 1997. Then there will be another long winter spent down on the flatland, attending to a different list, with different priorities. But I recken if that cycle could just go on forever, ol' Calendar, Betty, and the entire gang would be happy old geezers indeed.