I remember being a sapling or maybe several over the years that I’ve seen—springs, summers, falls, and winters—I’ve seen them all, but I never felt regarded with such majesty as when he found me in the forest and felled me by hand. He milled me from handsome Lodgepole Pine trees and constructed my modest, yet handsome framework during the summers of his own autumnal years, but year after year he grew smaller and slower until eventually, he was too tired to continue on. That was the year he covered me with tarps for good, where I sat neglected and unfinished through each of the seasons, for what seemed to be years.
He would visit me every year, like an old friend and we would reminisce upon our time together on the cold days preceding the long winter. Another blustery winter passed, my wood contracted and slowly expanded once again as the sun came back to shine upon the warm blue tarps that hid me from the weather; but that was the year he would never come back. Even with all of my years alone in the forest, that was the longest and loneliest year of my life. The next winter felt somehow harsher than the one before, my decay was inevitable and I would never again be shared with another.
Another nameless spring drew in with the melting snow when I felt tender young fingers grasp at my sun-bleached tarp. With a strong tug, I was uncovered and saw the sun for the first time in years and through the blinding light, I saw the same bright blue eyes and wry crooked old smile of which I had grown so fond. It wasn’t him, but a lady that had his same rough, yet warm exterior—she even wore one of his red flannel shirts. It was as if I was being seen by him for the first time, the way she admired his handiwork of my naturally stained trusses and unique floor-plan gave me hope.
The next day she choked the air with the exhaust of his old work truck, filled with his tools and a disheveled man who was about her age.—by the end of that fall her hands were rougher and stronger and I finally had a green tin roof as well as a strong weatherproofing on my sides to keep out the rain and snow. She temporarily shuttered my unframed windows and door until we would meet again the next spring to finish what the old man had started. She and the young man worked tirelessly; electricity and a gas line to a large tank were set up before she began to dote on me from the inside.
“His favorite color was green,” I heard her tell me one day, as she drew the paintbrush thoughtfully over the accent wood on my cabinets; the young man had built them for my kitchen. “I wish my father could have seen you like this.” Her tumbled copper hair fell into her eyes and an unwitting smudge of sage green paint appeared when she swept the fallen tendril from her face. It wasn’t long before I felt warmth creep up on me, from within my wood stove. The young man shoveled fresh logs into a raging fire, and she organized books into one of the many bookcases they had given me.
She placed a desk in the corner of my living room near the stove, which had a window that looked out over the mountains in the distance. On bright days she would take her tea there, cozy in a plush office chair that was laden with far too many fleece blankets, and a fluffy husky laying atop her feet. Suddenly the winters didn’t seem like such a burden to me, with her familiar voice and warmth to keep me company on those long, dark, and unbearably icy nights.
I saw her family grow and heard the pitter-patter of tiny bare feet on my hardwood flooring. I felt the paws of two new dogs, chasing each other up and down the stairs; and the slowing steps of the aging canine companion. Two giggling and sticky children turned to teenagers who would leave for college and only visit on the holidays. Winters of heavy storms, frigid frosts, and endless snows passed in great numbers, and her determination to keep me up persisted through all of them. When my paint faded and chipped, she dutifully restored me; when my deck began to creak with wear, she replaced boards and refinished me. I would keep her company during those long nights in front of the fire while she added more books to her overflowing library. I saw my redheaded friend’s hair fade and face crease; then I felt the swell of tears dampen my floorboards the summer when her husband didn’t come home.
She was getting slower, although her tenacity never seemed to be diminished. We would share those brisk dark clear nights under the brilliance of the milky way, as she bundled herself in a thick blanket and sipped a hot toddy. The stillness of rough and gentle woods paralleled her own coarse exterior. I had been with her through all of her adult years; I had seen her best years and her worst years. I had seen summers of laughter, mosquito bites, and buckets of familial tears. Through all of it, what I saw the most was a pair of bright blue eyes and that old crooked wry smile, which made me feel like home.
Mary has been a writer and artist for over a decade. Her passions lie somewhere between the beautiful and the macabre, but she enjoys every aspect of life. She explores the mysteries of the Last Frontier and the written word but dabbles in her love of artwork through the digital medium.