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An Idaho Morning

by Jonell Hoffman


Early morning on the mountain brought a heavy, misty-type fog as thick as tissue paper.  I stared beyond the screen door of the small log cabin I had rented. I could see no further than the wooden steps at the bottom of the porch.  Coffee cup in hand, I ventured out noting the creaking of the porch timbers beneath my feet.  Right behind me nipping at my heels was my faithful friend and companion.  Shasta was my three-year-old Boston terrier. She was the best hunting dog I knew of.  I shot them; she fetched them. I had rescued her from a shelter near home.  An elderly couple could not take her with them to the nursing home, and she became mine.

Someone had erected a very large wooden porch swing built from the pine trees found on the mountain. Though a bit uncomfortable, I sat and waited for the lifting of the menacing fog.  Shasta lay on the cool porch boards awaiting my command.

How the senses are heightened in such a quiet environment.  The only sounds heard were the chirping of the morning sparrows in the trees nearby and creaking of the rusted chains of the old porch swing.  There was an inner peace flowing over my soul like tepid water from the old well in the yard.  Why could I not remain in this same space for the rest of my earthly life and experience total and complete elation? 

 The fog soon overrode my patience. I trekked down the mountain to the river’s edge followed by Shasta.  The journey was indeed a good half-mile. My path was an uncertain one filled with rocks and potholes overgrown with weeds. I lost my balance when I stepped on a particularly large pinecone in my pathway.  Tumbling over and over finally landing on my side made me realize the condition of my body.  My bones ached mightily. I knew I would recover in a day or two with more than a few bruises to my torso. Shasta just licked my face repeatedly as if feeling sorry for me.

After catching my breath, I continued down the mountain in search of the beach area where I had stowed my much used canoe.  Not realizing the true density of the fog, I failed to see the landing and fell over the canoe on my backside.  If I survived my clumsiness, I planned to board the small boat. I had wanted to float down the river in search of berries for my breakfast.

Tree branches laden with dense gray moss hung low over the water’s edge. I remembered my Boy Scout fact that moss hung on the north side. Oh yeah, I knew the direction of my travels. Shasta sat in the bow of the canoe as if searching for obstacles in our path.

The water’s surface was tranquil.  Tiny waves washed over the pebbles of the beach area leaving bits and pieces of debris from the river’s floor.  There were bright shiny shells and weeds along with old wood. 

I draped my feet over the side of the canoe and let the cool water tickle my toes.  The water was so cool.  Tiny fish swam to and fro looking for their morning meal of insects. 

Somewhere in the distance was the tantalizing smell of bacon frying. My taste buds took on new life. My stomach began to growl. Shasta smelled it too and offered a bark of craving.

There was a soft moo from a cow grazing near an old barn waiting for milking time. No one was seen moving outside the tiny cabin.  It was as though time had stood still.

             I paddled my canoe slowly anxiously awaiting a glimpse of the sunrise that would eventually penetrate the denseness of the fog.  Moving soundlessly through the river, I heard the sound of an electric saw somewhere above the cavern floor. The sound echoed with such force, I felt an abrupt disturbance in my peacefulness. Perhaps someone was cutting down a pine to be used in his fireplace.  It was a known fact that in this region people used their fireplaces for both heating and cooking. 

            A single songbird warbled his good morning to me from a low-hanging branch. He then flew away to explore yet another tree.  It occurred to me that these simple creatures never worried about a place to sleep or food to eat. God always provided for their needs.  It was as though He had destined me to make this trip to assure me He cared and provided my needs each day without even being asked.           

Without warning quietness surrounded me that was almost eerie.  The fog wrapped us in a gentle blanket refusing to let me move.  My muscles were tense as if expecting something magnificent to happen. I was in total awe when the sun suddenly burst forth its brilliant beams penetrating the fog with such majesty and ease.  It was as if God had to show nature He was yet in control of the land and elements. 

The fog quickly dispersed. I was amazed at the height of the canyons stretching their giant cliffs upward to the sky on each side.  The giant walls had been hewn in time from the mighty force of this river. Overhead the azure sky was so bright filled with large billowing clouds.  High above these stately structures flew a small private plane plunging me back to reality. All at once the image that had transpired during the thick fog had vanished.  The expectation of events to come had been swallowed up by the very real typical day in America.  The mighty cliffs had lost their majesty and even the songbirds had traveled skyward in search of humanity. The morning stillness had been broken.

I glanced toward the bow of the canoe only to find Shasta lying on her back allowing the warm morning sun to penetrate her belly.  She was snoring so her body rocked from side to side. My mind seemed confused at that moment.  Did I want to return to reality and face another day at the office in the asphalt jungle? Did I want to turn and go back toward the tiny cabin with my best friend and be lost to nature.  Without hesitation, I circled around and returned to my haven by the river,   Reality could be faced yet another day.

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