Montana Wolf

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Satellite Blue

I snipped a few pink cosmos and black-eyed susans this morning, added them to the morass that's become my kitchen table and lit some candles. Now I sit with a hot steaming cup of espresso trying to sort the events of the past couple of weeks. Teak, outside with the dawn, has come back in. Hobo attacks my right-hand fingers as they tap across the keys. I hope the muse likes laughter.

Okay. I admit, I delved into Chemistry a bit. Well, more than a bit. One of my best friends, an exquisite writer who lives in Florida, was flying to Missoula to visit an Aunt. I hadn't seen her in 20 years and we were intent on a reunion. Turns out Chris (of Carole and Chris where I'm summer-parked) was set to travel across Montana to see his dad. I figured I'd hitch a ride, have him drop me off in 'round Missoula, Elizabeth could hijack a car and we'd meet. On a whim, I contacted "Wood Tick," the Montana Kerouac who had captured my imagination. Why not communicate and possibly set up a coffee along the way? I might have several hours to kill. 

He and I emailed as the possibility of seeing my friend dissipated behind an onslaught of serious bronchitis. Wood Tick bemoaned the fact that the "bait to get me out thar had disappeared."  There I was: no hope of seeing my friend and the sudden desire to meet this man. The plot thickens. "I'd like to hear your voice, would you like to hear mine?" I typed. Who would blink first? I called and left a message. He called back and did the same, saying that I sounded "pret...tee dy...nam...ic." He spoke with a drawl the likes of which I'd never heard. We decided to meet in Bonners Ferry -- Bombers Ferry to Wood Tick, a reference to Ruby Ridge -- a picnic by the Kootenay River at a little grassy park I'd recently discovered. We'd bring the dogs. In three days.

Carole and I humorously pondered my venture into terra incognito. Was it really his picture on-line, we spoofed? It didn't help that I'd just finished reading John Sanford's, Chosen Prey. I gave Carole his contact information as we agreed on a plan. Leave it open. See how things fly. Pack a bag? We joked about the days when women always packed a bag in case we got laid. Now we pack bags in case we get de-layed. As in airports.

We met at a bakery at a highway intersection. I was an hour late thanks to the back-up at the Canadian/US border crossing. I pulled into the shadeless parking lot, turned off the ignition and took a deep breath. Man and dog were sitting outside at a picnic table. He wore black jeans and a t-shirt w/black suspenders. We met mid-way on the dusty gravel with hellos. I was stunned. He looked nothing like his picture. He had assured me he wasn't "fat, bald or ugly ... yet." He was modest. He possessed sky blue eyes and a smile that melted. We sat outside and talked for an hour and I decided ya, let's move onto the picnic. Doggie Daycare, he called it. Three more hours of talk and laughter. The sun was getting low. We didn't want it to end.

"I don't know what you'd planned to do," he said, "but you're welcome to come to my place and spend some more time," he suggested. I didn't tell him that I had no plan. His place was a 100-miles east in the forest, 30 miles from the nearest town. My cell phone wouldn't work there. I smiled as I overcame my serial killer fears and pointed my body east. I dialed up daughter Hope as I  crossed another border, confident in my intuition and ability to readily extricate myself from situations that twist sideways. 

I had packed for an overnight; I stayed eight days. Every day he took me deeper into his landscape. He made simple, delicious meals. We made outings to visit friends, hiked, took trips into the forested mountains that enveloped his home; stepped into the hot tub every morning with coffee, watching Bohemian waxwings work the riverside bushes. I photographed as he practiced his bow, readying for the upcoming season and his quest for an elk. Everyday he'd look at me with those piercing blue eyes and ask: "So how's your whirlwind summer romance going?" I told him his presence had the comfort of an old t-shirt. He liked that. Now we're both figuring out where to put this encounter in the context of our fiercely independent lives.

Neither of us had acted on a Chemistry contact. If my Florida-amiga hadn't ended up in Montana this would never had happened. That's the way August was: a strange configuration of out-of-the-blue-happenings. Satellite blue, says my new friend, whose name is not Wood Tick. My subscription to Chemistry expires this morning. They want to know if I'd like a special offer of three months for the price of one? No thanks.

I'm content with the memory of lounging in bed under soft covers, listening to the river outside the door and hearing a lover's footsteps walking up the hallway. Wondering if I could get used to that.