Monday, April 15, 2019

Camp Morning

Soot’s Camp is magical this morning. Light rises with fog in the valley. A train whistles. I sip coffee in my Adirondack looking across the pond. Soot lies in grass below, chewing steak bone from last night’s grill. Boards, gravel, and slate are cast about, ready for garden work and carpentry. (Weeping willow trees arrive later. They will fill a hollow between pond and swale.)

Birds surround the deck, toing and froing feeders and tree. Algae mass in mats on the pond surface. Jelly eggs with tadpole dots double in the green mix. Goldfinches, up to five or six, dance and caterwaul on the thistle feeder. Geese honk high above in the gray sky. A nesting pair paddle quietly below. Their ripples unfold across the pond. House finches, chickadee, and sparrow gambol and stab at seed. Turkey vultures, who against my design nested in a duck box, cluck and beat loud wings. I hear a turtle splash from rock-to-water, but I haven’t seen him. He’s likely a paint. No sign of swamp monster, the big snapper. Not yet, but spring is early and cool. He will come; maybe he'll grab a cygnet and sup. A bullfrog pops his throat, “Harrumph.” The peeper chorus will sound off as the day warms.

I watch the big, fatty cob — dad goose — paddle on Soot’s pond. I wonder if he knows about the swamp monster below, able to clench and sever his leg. How did the cob react to gunfire last night, hunters on the other side of the mountain? We don't know.

The air is moist this morning. Rain will come.

I leave my deck perch as the drizzle mists in.


It’s been a long journey, my second mountain. Or third, or fourth. Whatever. We all climb, and we fall into valleys. I’m happy, I’m alive, and my boys are well.


I purchased the cabin, five acres and and a pond, a year-and-a-half back. It cost much. While the building is pre-Civil War, it is in nice shape, well-outfitted with new kitchen, heating, cooling, bath, tin roof, and wood stove. I put in a wider deck; rebuilt the pond inlet and outlet; and constructed rustic benches, a bridge, and stuff.

The deck is circled by bird feeders — thistle, sunflower, and mixed seed, and nectar for hummers. The cabin is furnished from my Georgetown home, antique shop buys, and tables I built from ambrosia maple. My first year I went to the cabin every weekend save a couple. These were often work trips, building stuff. (I slept on air mattress at first.) Now the place is pretty much done, and my visits are to read, write, enjoy music, and recreate. I like hikes on the Appalachian Trail, which is near. In warm weather, I canoe the Shenandoah.

Friends and family visit, smile and laugh. We frequent nearby wineries and sleep before the fire. My love and I find respite at Soot’s Camp. She paints with acrylics on the deck and about the pond, while I muse.


I grew-up with my parents Joan and George and sister Kathy. We most always had a weekend or summer house on the water, the Severn or lower Potomac River, tributaries to the Chesapeake. Usually, the house was not much more than a shack. But it was full of love, fishing gear, scavenged buoys, swimsuits on porch chairs, saltines, crab shells, beer, and damp books. This is where I learned to swim, fish, and sail; where I read every Hardy Boy novel. Carolyn never liked the idea of a second house, so it was not to be for my children.

I fancy a bridge.