With a broken-down oven, in a hotel kitchen, on an uninhabited island
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It is a large, very old, grey-green house with brown shutters, a long porch in front with a portion of it screened in. There is no lawn to speak of. But there is a yard with tall grasses waving sensuously to passersby and there are some trees, fruit trees perhaps, and in the back, one suspects there are animals and a rather large garden which comes right up to fences on both sides of the house.
It is not far from the road. The curious thing about the road is that you never see any cars on it. It is not a paved road. It is what we used to call a country road. Dirt.
Another curious thing is that I don’t know for sure where this house actually is. Sometimes I think it is in California, north of ’Frisco by a few miles. Other times I think it is in the hills south of Tucson near a ghost-town or in the Northern New Mexico mountains. Yet when I dream it, it is way north in back-country Himalayas and there the oxen really run wild. “My heart is in the wild,” I say somewhere in a poem.
a song like my own
says Joe Paddock in a lovely poem called, “The song within.”
There are always mountains in the distance. But the actual setting of the house is on a long high plain or plateau, or mesa as So’westerners call it. That accounts for the tall grasses, hardy trees and healthy winds, chilly but invigorating. Behind the house the foothills begin. From the road you see the first tentative peaks, and from there the eye is led ever upward in all directions at once. There used to be lots of life in the vicinity but now most of the animals have gone away, and except for this singular place, there is no sign of life anywhere, although one glimpses a few horses and cattle farther on, some grazing beyond the fences, and the side roads must lead somewhere.
I passed by this house twice, once in California and once near Tucson, each time with a woman. I remember stopping in the most bewildered way at the rickety old fence both times, as though waiting for someone to greet me. Once the woman wanted to stop a little distance down the road, and I wanted to go on, explore further this trail. It was reported that sunset down by the cliff was an even more spectacular vision than any we had seen.
I was adamant but she was mysteriously afraid of something or someone and sat down and refused to move. I could not bear to leave the woman there afraid, and yet I wanted very much to have that remaining unexplored vision at the other end of the trail. I paced back and forth for a few crucial minutes, then turned and started for the car several miles away in the opposite direction of the cliff. I was lucky. The woman silently followed.