In February 1979 I was madly in love. I was a new guide for my friend Duncan Storlie, staying alone with a team of dogs for days between trips at a little outpost cabin in the Nemadji forest south of Duluth Minnesota. Starry eyed, dreaming of the future, I wrote a poem. Can’t recall whether I shared it with my sweetheart. (Because, to be honest, thinking back to those days, it seems unlikely that my sweetheart was even yet aware that she was my sweetheart. I was not renowned for my boldness.)
Wake in a room of rough log walls,
Warm and naked under thick light quilts,
Frost lacing the panes,
Get up and light the fire.
Use paper and a wooden match,
Kindling split the night before,
Solid chunks of birch and maple.
Hurry back to the bed – bare feet on dry cold floor boards.
To warm your icy playful hands and toes,
And laugh and laugh and laugh
As the room warms up.
No “solid chunks of maple” in the crackling fire this morning; just fire-killed spruce here on the scraggly rim of the taiga. But the workshop walls are rough-cut logs and out in the entryway the inch-thick frost is doing a lot more than delicately “lacing” the panes. Deep cold overnight, somewhere below minus forty for the fourth time this month. Warm beneath the quilts, and bare feet on the scuffed plywood floor, frantically seeking slippers.
Still laughing. Not that same young laugh I dreamt of laughing, tickling under the covers, but after all these years, all those miles, all of it all, I am, we are, mostly still laughing, and yes, still in love.
Happy Valentine’s Day everybody.