Back in the Days when Contentment Waited on the Far Side of a Log Bridge.



In the scorching heat of the summer, we would leave our urban dwelling and head for the summoning mountains.

Roger Summers
Roger Summers

No sooner had we hit the road  than we would  — in the mind’s eye – begin to feel  the refreshing  mountain showers, the cool  temperatures, the relaxing settings.  For we knew them well, having been there so many times before.

Eventually the sizzling highways  would morph  into  the  narrowing,   circuitous, welcoming roads and the  real mountainous moments would  again be with us  and we would be  restored, renewed, reinvigorated.

Complete, engulfing happiness was ours when we would see  the  familiar log bridge that  would  take  us across the cold, rushing, inviting   mountain river and to the guest  ranch with its two dozen or so rustic  cabins that had been our summer  vacation home for year after year  after year.

And would be again just now.

Hurry, hurry, hurry across the log bridge.

Contentment was on the other side.

Just waiting.

Home at last, we would think, and  immediately begin to wish —  as we  did each year – that we would never  have to leave, though we knew with  certainty that we would.

And oh, so soon.

So very, very soon.

The owners would welcome us,  as they always did, and instantly we would have our belongings inside  our chosen cabin and would  immediately begin making a mental  schedule of what we would do and  where and when.

There were trails to be hiked, rivers to be splashed  about in, rocks to be hunted,  photographs to be made, cookouts  to be arranged and on and on.

And we  would  know  with  certainty  that,  in  due  time,  the  owners  would  knock  on  our  cabin  door  and  offer  to take  us  exploring  in  their  old  beat-up  but  always  reliable  pickup,  famously  known  as  the  Pink  ‘n’  Gray  Bird.

Maybe  fishing.

Maybe up  to  their  mountaintop  ranch.

Maybe  to  some  breathtaking  vista.

Maybe . . .

Sure  enough,  the  knock  would  come on the  cabin  door.

How  about  a  midnight  ride  up  to  the  mountaintop   ranch  for  a  breakfast  cookout,   where  we  could  watch  the  stars come out to delight  and  entertain?

And  fill  us  with  wonder.

The  owners  surely  knew  they  could  depend  upon  our  answer   —  a  quick,  enthusiastic,  collective   “Yes!”

It  would  be cold in the night air,  so  bundle  up.

And bring  something   comfortable  to  sit on, for the  Pink  ‘n’  Gray   Bird,  although  seemingly  guaranteeing   it  would  get  us  there and  back,   could  be  a  rough  ride as  we  sat in  the  truck  bed bounding and bouncing  along  those  switchback dirt roads —  paths,  really – to  and  from  the  mountaintop  ranch.

No matter,  the  Pink  ‘n’  Gray  Bird, despite an occasional stall, overheated radiator or other mechanical breakdown, eventually  always  delivered  us  to rich reward.

But  bring  nothing  else,   except an enormous appetite.  Plus a yearning for discovery. The owners  would  take  care  of all other needs.

Soon we  would be there,   carefully   choosing  a  sloping, mountain side  spot  among  the  aspen  and  the  pine,  a  place  where  we  could  watch  the   stars  come  out  to  play.

To endlessly twinkle,  zoom and dip and  zip.

And delight.

We  gathered  wood and built a  large  fire and  fried  bacon  and  scrambled  eggs and made toast in big iron skillets.

We  brewed   coffee  in  a couple   of  old  porcelain   pots  and  the  smell  of  it  wafted  about  and  made  our setting  at  once  complete  and reassuring and serene.

And  as  we  ate  our after-midnight  breakfast   and talked and  sipped  our  hot   coffee  we  listened  to  the  owners  tell  the  wondrous,  enthralling    tales of  the  mountains,   some  true,  some made up  from  the whole  cloth  from  deep  within  the imagination  but  the  latter  still  stories  we  somehow  wanted  to believe.

And maybe did.

And so that night was ours.

Cares were not allowed; they were banished. Commanded to remain at home.

To this day, those star-watching,  breakfast-eating, story-telling, coffee  sipping moments there about that  enormous mountaintop camp fire  are deeply etched into the 20-20  vision of memory.

There to repeatedly be called up, enjoyed.

Lived and relived.

Told, retold.


Washboard RoadPlease click the book cover to read more about Roger Summer’s short collection, Heart Songs from a Washboard Road.

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