'The bear is sleeping'GWYNETH HYNDMAN
The Montana dispatch:
In the past five weeks my world has shrunk to the size of a tiny bedroom.
My tiny bedroom to be exact.
Seven weeks ago the world was a wild planet for exploring. No airline special that entered my email inbox went un-investigated.
The dent in my savings account could be traced to five months of plane, train and bus tickets in four countries on three continents, in two hemispheres and one awesome hotel room in August with a balcony that looked out to a palm tree and the Pacific Ocean.
And now, here I am, eating pumpkin pie with a gingernut-chocolate crust with a dollop, just a dollop, of whip cream, in bed, while watching online episodes of The Good Wife.
And this is not even an entire tiny bedroom I am writing from. I have exactly half of a tiny bedroom, with a wardrobe partition, that I share with a pastry chef who has to be up by 5.30am tomorrow.
My most recent thrill in the world of my tiny bedroom was getting a new pillowcase and finally putting in a lightbulb in the bedside lamp by my bed, so I could read one of the thousand chick lit and detective novels in the living room bookshelf without waking her.
This world expands a bit.
In the morning I bring my blanket, pillow, and a book to the couch, make a pot of coffee, and turn on the Christmas beer lights on our tree and curl up and read.
When I walk home from work - a 10 minute commute past the horse corrals - I have been scattering a small herd of elk.
Scattering elk is probably the wildest part of my world right now.
I watch them disappear into the woods; dark shadows moving against the snow that is like crystal under the barn lights.
Then I keep walking, my boots sinking into the fresh powder, until I get to our porch. I take off my boots, slam them against each other a few times to get the snow off, then enter the warm (really, really warm - six of the seven girls that live together are from hot, dry climates) living room with bowls of Christmas chocolate kisses still on the kitchen table.
No one is usually up when I get home; but if they are they are usually in pajamas and robes and there will usually be feet soaking in a footbath and snacking from Styrofoam containers and leftover wine from sleigh ride dinners being poured into mugs.
But most of the time they are asleep. The house is dark as I unzip my jacket and take my snow covered hat off. I put my wine key on a top shelf with my tip money.
I will shower off the cold outside, put on thick farmer socks, and slather cocoa butter on my hands that are dry and cracked from the high altitude, and retreat to my bed, which is about as fabulous as Paris to me right now.
Next to me on the bedstand is my Omaui stone, taken from the beach outside my crib in May. Just beside it is a turquoise ring I bought in Lisbon (I like waking up to see them side by side. Morning ritual includes putting it on) and under the bedstand, just in my line of view is the pair of cowboy boots I bought in California in July.
Being here in this bed is like hibernating (I keep hearing the waspy voice of the narrator in Legends of the Fall: ''The bear inside him was sleeping.'')
I am burrowed under a cover that is actually just my sleeping bag - the same sleeping bag that has been unrolled in so many extraordinary places in the past 10 years - now punched down, domesticated, and stuffed into a duvet lining.
It's a wild and crazy sleeping bag that is also having its hibernation time. It needs a bit of a break from doing extraordinary things. Maybe sleeping bag and I aren't really looking to unravel ourselves anywhere new for awhile.
We like this bed in this tiny half bedroom, under a window that looks out to trees sagging with snow. We like pumpkin pie crumbs in the sheets and pressing play on the next episode of The Good Wife.
Unadventurous and slothful, yes. But it is winter and this is Montana.
And the bear inside us is sleeping.
Image top: Omaui Beach, Southland. Photographer: Robyn Edie, The Southland Times.
- The Southland Times