Thursday, November 15, 2007

before the snow, fiercely

We came by this place in the Adirondack night. The moon had been with us in plattesburgh and now as we overshot lake placid into Elizabethtown for groceries, and kept on wrongly, to find ourselves bookended by low cliffs like the craggy beards of so many miners.
My pal tapped the dome light and the moon made an irish exit.
We were lost. Retreated backwards until we found 73, wound south. Noshed on turkey sandwiches over-mapled in syrup until we came through Keene, past the Olympic high jump training facility, steel girders and concrete pillars naked without snow.
He read the map and made the car dark again and told me it was at the peak, our turnoff.
That place came and went, no turnoff in sight. The rain came and went, like flour tossed before the kneading of bread.
But we came about this place, through the trees, over the one-lane bridge housed with aluminum that roared under new rain, past the lodge. There was a notice posted warning of bears, of illegality of alcohol in camp, and of a temporary closure, though payment in the morning was accepted. Cash or credit.
The lean-to was three walls, a floor, pitched roof; it faced the firepit, a dense thicket of alders and by the heavy stroke of wind come through them, we werent far from the cliffs we'd seen from our lost highway.
The rain came harder as we tossed our bedding into a heap on the floor of the structure, and I built a fire. I stood over it, held out the folds of my jacket that my back might bear the brunt of the rain, and the flames might catch.
They did.
I finished my beer, felt the burn in my throat. Lifted the lid of another and drank that, too.
My friend feared for bears. He bit his lip and pulled a sheepskin around his ears. Asked, could they smell the beer in our bottles? I wagged my finger and told him he'd better finish it, then. He kept his back to the wall, tucked under a mound of blankets, away from the fire.
We put our bottles face-down in the pit with the coals and the burning logs and the last drops hissed out and it was dry. Under gust of wind and flog of rain, those bottles would shatter in the night.
But we would not clean the shards for many hours, when we woke under breath of light snow, destined for cheap coffee with the taste of burnt olives and snake shit and we would cook our soup by the river on that bluff where the wind spread our fire in the trees and but for the heaving gift of snow might have cooked a cavern in those adirondacks on that morning on the first day of november.