There was nothing truly remarkable about today but it was different nonetheless. Today the ghosts were out.
The past few days have had glorious weather. The temperatures have dropped and the clouds have been busy decorating the sky. For the first time in days we could see the mountains of Portneuf Gap across the valley.
Last evening the sunset was beyond compare. We had dinner on the deck and enjoyed the slightly cool weather. As we waited for dinner to cook, we dissected in minute detail the differences between our now-gone house views of Portnef Gap and the views from this temporary house. It was an intelligent conversation grounded in photography and knowledge of the terrain.
We concluded that we liked the perspective we had from our house more than the perspective from this temporary house. Today that conversation makes no sense. Now what we have from our house are ghost views of the Gap. Discussing the view from a quantifiable perspective, analyzing the altitudes, angles and what a camera lenses could see from the two different locations was about geography and photography. Today the memory of that conversation was about not having our view of the Gap. It was the ghost of not having a home to live in so we could see that view of the Gap.
Shortly after we moved to this temporary house I edited four of our favorite photos and my spouse took them to the local discount warehouse and had them printed in large poster size. They are hanging on the walls to help us maintain a connection between our old, current and future life. One of the photos portrays the view of Portneuf Gap taken from our kitchen door at the now-deceased house. I selected it to help us keep that perspective. The Gap is visible from many places in our area but it was unique from our house. Across the year and indeed across a day, it was a panoply of light, shadow and dignity. It never ceased to enchant us.
Some many years ago I gave a presentation for people from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Attendance was entirely voluntary but the room was packed. Powerpoint presentations were rare then and when I asked for one to be set up there was a great deal of consternation. We did manage to get permission and my opening slide was the view from my kitchen door looking toward Portneuf Gap. After I made my formal welcoming statements, I leaned a over the podium a bit and said, “Now I am going to make you sick.” Immediately I wished I had not said it. You see, I was presenting in a U.S. Senate Hearing room that had been converted to an auditorium for the presentation. The audience looked at me aghast, shocked at my behavior. I did redeem myself when I pointed to the photo and said, “This is the view from my kitchen door.” A murmur of amusement lumbered across the crowd growing into full, shared laughter. My heart, which had fallen down to the ground, rose back up and I was able to make my presentation. To my astonishment, I received a standing ovation. I am certain it was the photographs, almost all of which were from my house.
This morning the weather was glorious. My spouse teaches in the afternoon on Wednesday so we went out for an early hike. The national forest, with miles of trails, is only a few miles from our former house and just a few more miles from our temporary house. Sophie was ecstatic to get to go hiking. Being a dog she watches her human’s behavior closely. At the old house she had learned when we put socks on a certain way, especially if she saw a pack come out, it meant we were going on a hike. Today she watched intently as if she thought something was going on but could not quite put together the meaning of socks in the old house with socks in the temporary house. After a bit I said, “Do you want to go for a hike?” Sophie had run down the stairs so fast that she left me behind. She panicked. She stood in the hall turning back and forth looking toward the garage where my spouse was and to the stairs where I was. You could tell the desire to go for a hike was in mortal conflict with her desire not to be separated from me. The ghosts of the fire fluttered about.
We had a good hike. Afterwards we had a few extra minutes so we ran by the old house; the hole in the ground that was our house. The view of the Gap is different now. I checked on my plants and while most were ghosts, there are three that are still growing. In all we were there only a few minutes. It seems that is all it took.
Most days the ghosts are safely tucked away with all good monsters in the closet. Today, they were out and about and a sad reminder that our home with our view of the Gap was gone.