Lone figure, arms outstretched, square in the spotlight of an otherwise darkened stage:
“I did it my wa-aaa-aay!”
(Orchestra crescendo, applause, lights up)
“Thank you. Thank you very much. You’re too kind, too kind. It’s been a wonderful evening. I’d like to thank all my special guests. They've been marvelous. Anita, you’re amazing.”
“Now, before we go, I have one special song I’d like to sing. It goes like this:
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Christa
Happy Birthday to yo-ooo-ou!
Thank you. God Bless. Good night, everyone!”
A sharp crack kicks about the wood burning within the stove that helps keep the cabin warm and the roof free from snow that accumulates nearly everywhere else. An old metal pot sits hot atop the iron stove, filling the air with the strong scent of fresh coffee. The home is made sturdy with logs and has a rock chimney along its side and a modest porch in front from which its inhabitants can sit and watch the wildlife that come to drink from the stream that cuts across the surrounding alpine meadow. Behind the home and extending around to its sunlit side steeply rise majestic mountains white with snow-covered pine until the timberline is reached and then, a sheer expanse of rock face stretching to nearly in reach of the clouds plowing the nautical sky. A nearby young spruce is draped with lights. It’s the season of holidays, of long nights and people drawing close.
The familiar sound of the pickup truck making its way up the gravel road draws her to the window. Two deer only briefly raise their heads at the sound of the horn before returning to feeding on tall grass. The truck pulls up in front of the porch and she sees what must be two months of provisions organized in the bed of the truck. Among the sacks of flour, rice, dried beans, tins of coffee and boxes laden with assorted spices and seasons is a role of canvas and tied-together-wood for the later making of stretcher boards.
“You looking for help?”
“Just clear an area I can put it all and we’ll sort out what goes where.”
“Let’s get to it then. We've got fresh coffee waiting.”
It’s all quick work for the experienced. There’s great kitchen bins with metal latches to discourage a wayward raccoon or pushy bear. Visitors of this sort almost never make it inside but there’s no good reason to tempt them. Whatever shooting there may be will be for reasons other than clearing nosey animals from the home.
The bins rest filled with winter stores. The growing glow from the fireplace throws shadows dancing about the room. A kerosene lamp is lit. The two sit at the old rustic table, grateful for the warmth and the surge they feel from the bitter black coffee. California seems like many years ago. He smiles and reaches into the deep pocket of his coat. He pulls from it a small box, held neatly closed by colored string, and pushes it across the table to her.
She pulls open the string and lifts the lid. Arranged inside is a necklace, carefully handcrafted from the charming artifacts found about the forest and glades of their mountain home.
“Happy Birthday, Christa.”