I recognized the name as he turned down his street, but the road became gravel and ten minutes later we finally approached his home. It blended cleanly with the trees as a simple cabin leading up to its entrance. The garage, behind the main structure, offered plenty of space for his truck, the trailer, and even my vehicle. Based on mine alone, eight cars could fit, but besides the three spaces we just filled, tools, snowmobiles, fishing poles, two snow blowers, a riding mower, a bicycle, and even a snow cat filled the multi-functional room. All of the gear was organized and sectioned; camping gear was over there, winter weather equipment stood at one end, and all of the modes of transportation grouped together.
I already parked and exited my car when he approached me, extending a helping hand.
“I’ve got this. Do you need to grab anything out of your truck?”
He shook his head. “It’ll keep.”
He took my hand as we entered through a hallway that joined to the house from the rear garage. When we reached the main room, the view amazed me.
The house appeared as a single story, ranch-style cabin with assorted picture windows when we drove in, but the back entrance was at the top of a staircase overlooking a great room that included a two-story stone fireplace to the right, a full kitchen to the left, high ceilings, warm colors, clean lines, and modern accoutrements that might have been straight from a home show. Two staircases on either side of the fireplace, in addition to the one upon which we entered, lead to the additional hidden spaces of his home.
“This is beautiful!” Words escaped me as much as they did at yesterday’s sunset. Was that really just one day ago?
“I’m glad you’re here. I wanted you here.” He held my hand as we descended into his home’s warm embrace.
“You designed this.” If I asked, he would not have answered anyway. I knew.
“If I get a fire going, do you mind if I take a few minutes to get cleaned up myself?”
I smiled. I didn’t have to answer the easy questions any more, either.
He left me alone with the roaring blaze he’d started, and I considered starting dinner, but I still wasn’t hungry after the late lunch, plus what occupied my mind now more than compensated for any pangs my stomach may have tried to voice.
In my bag I included my sketchbook, and while not my initial intent, I considered it best application to capture my initial impressions of his beautiful home. I sat on the high-backed couch that faced the fireplace but within a couple minutes relocated to the soft rug in front of the fire. I imagined him designing the staircases wrapping behind it and the open kitchen opposite it.
My apartment, like so many before it, simply marked the place where I kept my belongings. This place existed for life to be lived, for business to be conducted (I expected he included a top-notch office with the latest technology somewhere down one of the hallways), and for the Lumberjack to escape the rest of the world that often misunderstood him. The surroundings connected to his personality in a dozen ways: simple and clean, like his style of speech, state-of-the-art, like the work he enjoyed, highlights of pine and wood, like the forest and mountains he loved. Even the stone layers reaching to the ceiling in front of me echoed the colors of the layered formations in the canyons. I spent so much time soaking in my surroundings, I barely made a dent in my sketch when he reappeared.