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January 2016 vol 11 no 4

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Ray Rasmussen

Drifting Through

I'm staying at a cottage in a mixed hardwood forest where I earn my keep by putting up the winter's wood supply. But no work today … it's my whatever happens time.

A cardinal’s song has drawn me out for a walk through the tall stands of maples, hemlocks and birch. The canopy is so dense that only small rays of light filter down onto moss-covered stones and shrubs.

In a clearing, I come across a one-room cottage with “Our Home” painted over the entry. Windows broken, door hanging askew on a single hinge, it’s now a shelter for mice and squirrels.

The residents were among the many immigrants who arrived in the 1890s, cut and milled the trees into lumber, built the cottage, over-farmed the marginal soil, and moved on. A flowering peony just outside the window was likely bought at great expense to remind them of the old country.

The sun streams through a crisscross of broken roof beams lighting the interior. Stained walls are decorated with barely legible posters: sheep grazing in the Scottish Highlands; a farm family riding in a horse-drawn wagon on a bright summer day; and a sailing ship, perhaps to take the residents to far away places, or back to their native land.

day dreams –
tatters of paper hanging
from an old wall

Previously Published as "At A Friend's Cottage" in bottle rockets.