The days were good.
Early in November he packed all the provisions he had stored the previous weeks in the garage into his car. That vintage Land Cruiser he bought in Germany a while back from an old man who no longer could drive and kept it in such good condition until he would find a fine man to sell it to. Every time he remembered that scene when he left the small town and the old man sat by the road with tears in his eyes, after he had told him “I know you will take good care of her. I know you’re a good man.” made him very emotional. It also made him question his goodness. But he tried before and he couldn’t answer that. Now he was loading the trunk with tins, cans, and bags of potatoes, with dried fruits and nuts and books and twelve packs of beer with the endless excitement that preceded his annual getaway. Most of the gear was there already, and also some leftovers from last year: jars of strawberry jam and pickles that were still edible, a couple of bottles of bourbon and the small cellar in the basement almost full of wine. Good wine.
He was doing all the preparations automatically and before he knew it, he was on his way to the mountains on a crisp morning, when the sun was rising. When he got there, before unpacking, he opened the shutters and the windows to let the cool air circulate and freshen the cabin. Then he stored everything methodically in order to see if he forgot something or if he needed anything. The village was only twelve miles away but he had to get what he needed before the first big snowfall which usually happened at the end of November because the road down to the Main Street became impracticable after that time. Stranded in the forest, surrounded by an ocean of snow. The beautiful quietness of solitude. That was his perspective. And he embraced it.
The first days he woke up early in the morning and washed his face with ice cold water and made coffee on the wood stove and ate toast with butter and cured ham. He started chopping the wood fire before the weather turned bad, wearing plaid shirts and rubber boots and in the afternoon, when the sun went down behind the peaks he put on a woolen sweater and brought the wood inside and lit up the fire in the fireplace. Before the nightfall, he sat on the porch drinking beer and thinking how lucky he was to be living so simply and so closely to nature and to be breathing the clean air. He dreamt too. Of what, he wasn’t sure but then it got cold and he went in and before dinner time he poured himself half a glass of bourbon and started reading a new novel or sometimes re-reading Emerson and Thoreau, his bare feet up towards the fire, absently listening to the sound of the wood burning. For dinner he baked potatoes and fried sausages in the pan or grilled trout if the fishing went well that day, before the water got too cold and the trout didn’t bite anymore.
The days were good. He did what he liked. Sometimes and old friend of his father’s came to the cabin and they drank together. He liked the presence of other people for a while, but what he liked mostly was to be by himself, with his thoughts and as if they knew, they got up and left before intruding and so he appreciated them for that and they were always welcome.
The days were good. Sometimes it rained so badly he couldn’t leave the house. Those were “lazy” days when he felt obliged to work on his essays and once he got into it, he didn’t feel how fast the hours were passing and by the time he got his nose up from the books it was already dark out and then he opened a bottle of red wine to celebrate the progress he made that day.
The days were good. And he knew that was the end of something and as T.S. Eliot put it, it was the beginning of something as well.
The days were good.