Serene Karplus, Nederland. Celebrating a 100th birthday is big, be it for a person or for a cabin surviving in our rugged mountain climate. Both require a lot of care and maintenance to get to such a venerable age. One of our seniors’ families gathers this week to honor the ten decades of joy and sorrow shared by the cabin her grandfather built here in 1916.
Like a person, a cabin has to grow and change with modern times. Some like to stay pretty basic, while others add all the modern conveniences. Some can only handle the summers here and others endure year-round, but, with a little loving care, they stick around year after year and make our lives a little more enjoyable.
They say home is where the heart is and for many this emotional bond is strong. Even with no attachment to our stuff or sense of place, we can stop and be grateful for the physical comforts our home provides. Ask anyone who lost their home in recent fires and floods. We take for granted all that a home offers beyond a roof over our heads.
Returning home after a 6-night getaway reminds us of how pleasant the simple things in life can be. Choosing to live in the mountains on low income means that my rare brief vacations need to incur only the cost of the gas to get there. Avoiding motels and campground fees, we find nice forest service road pullouts and bundle up to stay warm on mountain passes that frost the grasses and the car windows in mid-August.
Trying to eat a quick breakfast of bread and cheese from the ice chest is slowed by frozen fingers unable to hold the knife and jumping up and down to get warm. We postpone washing anything until the sun is high in the sky. By then, the foods in the cooler are warming, too, and we need to find a place that will sell us some ice – a tough order in remote areas and small towns. The camera has only one battery and the cell phones drain quickly if we fail to shut them down in the no-service zones where we spend our days.
At some point in every day or two, we must travel through a town to find a café or fast food restaurant where we can recharge everything, check messages, and hopefully connect to the internet for vital emails. Folks today assume everyone is online 24/7 and expect an immediate response to their correspondence. We don’t like to broadcast our absence from home with automated replies, so we type abbreviated responses on the little cell phone keypad and return to the wilderness. At night, the hand-cranked flashlight shines too much light at the beginning of its cycle and too little at the end, but suffices for journaling notes before falling asleep.
The views are glorious, the hikes good exercise, and the skies full of stars. We get by without the modern conveniences. When we arrive home, we celebrate every little thing.
We know where we will park the car tonight and where we will sleep. Foods moved to the fridge will stay cold without much monitoring (OK, so it’s over 30 years old and freezes the stuff on the left, but, at least we know that). The breakfast knife will gleam under hot running water (OK, so we have to angle the faucet handle a certain way or it drips, but at least we know that). Our restroom waste will flush down to the septic system odor free (OK, we have to plunger it every time, but at least we know that). We can take a hot shower whenever we want (OK, the housemates requested no noise after 9pm, but at least we know that). Phones recharge while we sleep (OK, so the signal is weak, but at least we know that). The broadcast internet on the laptop computer is always on (OK, it’s slow sometimes, but at least we know that).
We celebrate the simple joy that we can wake up early, dress standing up and wear less than three layers, flip a light switch, use a flush toilet, clean our teeth with a brush not buried in luggage and warm running water, brew a cup of coffee with fresh ground beans, and connect over the internet with the hundreds of people who enrich our lives, and take for granted all of the modern conveniences.
All adults are welcome at all Mountain MidLife and Nederland Area Seniors events, attended mostly by folks over age 50. Everyone is invited to luncheons every Monday and Wednesday, breakfast on most second Saturdays, and dinners on fourth Fridays through summer (third Fridays in fall) at the Nederland Community Center. Please call two days ahead for lunch reservations and a week ahead (whenever possible) for dinners and breakfasts to 303-258-0799. (Missed the deadline? Call anyway.) Cost shown lists first the over-age-60 requested contribution, then the cost for under-age-60.
Friday, Aug 26, 5:30pm (Doors open 5:00pm), $5/$9: Mountain MidLife Dinner: Garlic Herb Chicken, Citrus Quinoa, Greek Salad, WW Bread, Almond/Lemon Cake w Yogurt/Fruit
Monday, Aug 29, Noon, $4/$8.25: Tuna Salad Sandwich on WW, Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Tomato Cucumber Salad, Fruit
Wednesday, Aug 31, Noon, $4/$8.25: Combination Pizza w Sausage/Onion/Pepper/Mushroom/Olive, Greens Salad, Pineapple