I tend to forget the brilliant wattage of stars until I’m away from the electric lights that dim them… We’re not exactly roughing it here–magazine staffers and spouses in a picturesque but modern four-bedroom log cabin with full kitchen, two-story stone fireplace, hot water, outlet for my iPad, coffee pot (and imported coffee), view of the mountains, and a gourmet chef in the person of my husband… But when I stepped outside for a bedtime smoke, removed for a moment from the lights and the laughter and the cutthroat game of Uno going on inside, those stars over the Sawtooths beamed in like white lasers, reminding me we’re at the edge of wilderness. It’s the end of the season here at Redfish Lodge; our week is the last hoorah before they board up the cabins and the disappointed deer (which nosed right up to our patio this evening to see if we had deer-food for them) will have to forage on their own till the next tourist season.
End-of-season observation… Evidently the chimneys get cleaned AFTER the season, because ours is venting directly into the cabin. And evidently we aren’t the first to experience this issue, judging by the missing smoke detectors absent from their bases throughout the cabin. Except, of course, for that one unreachable bugger fourteen feet above our heads on the vaulted ceiling. I wonder if the Geneva Convention covers torture by smoke alarm. With all seven of us intently invested in the project of silencing the damn thing (though increasingly impaired by our own laughter as our attempts became more desperate and more creative, involving broom handles, fireplace pokers, and stacked furniture), we cheered my husband’s emergence from our room, hoisting the long wooden hanging-rod from the closet like a jousting knight in fleece armor. We proceeded to play piñata with the smoke detector until we’d literally beaten it off the ceiling (though it continued to chirp like a thing possessed for a few minutes even after we tore its battery out) and then went outside, high on our hard-won victory, to have a celebratory cigar. (Is that ironic? The smoke alarm has no comment.)