Sunday, October 13, 2013

dancing in the cabin

Earlier this week, Finnigan and his person, Louis, came to visit. They got a tour of the cabin and the river, and then we took in some sites in the area, like the free house just up the road.

The sign above the Confederate flag reads:
Free House, Must Move.

We went to Otter Lake, where Louis claims to have seen a fish jump clear out of the water. It was a very big fish, he said, maybe a salmon or a trout. A big trout. Maybe a salmon. I did not see it, but I did see the rings the big jumping salmon or trout left behind, and they were big rings.

This is Otter Lake, where the river goes and where
big fish jump clear out of the water.

We stopped at Kurt’s Korner, where along with a fishing license, beer, ice cream, wine, crackers, ice, and ammo, you can get a pretty good veggie pizza.

A good place for pizza.

And then what happened is this: we danced. One minute we were eating pizza and the next minute, or so it seemed, we were dancing. In the cabin. Let me clarify. Louis and I were dancing. Then Finn and Louis were dancing. Then Finn and I were dancing.

When people and dogs come over and start dancing with you in your cabin, well, remember that song from the “The Sound of Music”? Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good ...

It was dusk. There was a glow from the woodstove and some flickering candlelight. Lamps were switched on. We pushed a couple of chairs back. Louis taught me the Texas Two-Step. That was all there was to it. We was dancin’. I messed up on the twirls, but Finn handled them pretty well.

Two years ago, the cabin did not even have a bathroom. Does that sound like a non sequitur? It is not. Two years ago no bathroom, no closet, much of my stuff heaped in piles in the garage, just out there on pallets on the dirt tucked under blue tarps. No plumbing, no kitchen sink, sleeping in the living room on the lumpy futon because the loft was, well, a mess. Anyway. Old story. All I know is that two years ago October was a stressful time, and one year ago, well, now I’m thinking about my old dog Buster. Another stressful time.

I suppose if the pages were to keep whirling off this October calendar, blowing away in the breeze, taking us back to other years with golden leaves skittering across the pavement, we might stop to gawk at more angst-ridden scenes playing out against a bank of pretty autumn colors. Ah, October. Perhaps my favorite month. But now, with age, imbued by a few unpleasant memories ... Happily, fading memories.

This October, there’s dancing in the cabin.

Now, it’s not like I haven’t danced in the cabin before. I have, by myself, because Elliott is not a dancer and Buster never was, even when young. His friend Queenie, a mixed-up border collie—now she was a dancer. But she is gone almost three years now. So I’ve danced alone, which is not such a bad thing, possibly even a good thing. Often while doing the dishes I’m listening to the radio and maybe a song comes on like The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back” or Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” or some old disco tune with whistles and beeps and, hey, why not dance? It feels good to spin away from the sink, to grab that dish towel, to dance. And sometimes Bruce Springsteen is playing and that makes me want to dance, or it’s John Mellencamp’s “Little Pink Houses” or Van Halen’s “Jump.” Now that I think about it, yes, there’s been plenty of dancing in this little log cabin.

But there’s never been dancing like this.

Louis brought the music, taught me this two-step thing that honestly seems to have three steps—but who am I to quibble?—and between the living room and the kitchen there was just enough room to make it work. So I messed up the twirls—hey, you can’t have everything. But maybe, with a little practice. Finn cut in, so I stepped back. Then it was my turn with Finn, and he stood on his hind legs, about two feet tall, and I’m pretty sure we weren’t doing the two-step anymore, but maybe something like yippie!-make-it-up-as-you-go-along!, which is exactly the dance Queenie and I used to do.

There are many ways of bringing back good memories; many ways of letting go bad memories. And in one or two steps, it seems, maybe three, dancing does both.

I must say, it’s been an odd autumn. Warm, dry days continuing right into mid-October. Petunias and impatiens still blooming on the porch. Tomatoes, despite a night or two of frost, ripening on the vine. Dandelions dotting the lawn. Elliott chasing butterflies. And lazy, dazed mosquitoes, slap, no comment. Elsewhere, blizzards. But here, a lingering summer. And here, this post was to end, but it cannot. I don’t know how to end it. Later in the week, Louis’ father passed on. My heart simply goes out to him and to his family.

Saturday morning’s sunrise over Marquette’s lower harbor.