This was another 10-minute free -write from one of my writing groups. We were given the phrase “the old rocking chair.” I have modified it some, 10 minutes is not much time to create perfection 😉
Summer’s long-awaited warmth took me and my buddy farther into the woods today than normal. I had seen a faint track last fall, just passed our turnaround spot on our favorite trail. Time was short then but now it was time to go explore it. Toby led the way, chasing the occasional squirrel, splashing in and out of the stream that followed our usual path. We’d hiked maybe an hour past our regular turnaround/lunch spot, hunting now and then when the trail fizzled out. All of a sudden the path became clearer, beaten and packed, leading us into an open meadow. At the far side of the clearing a cabin stood in the sun, tucked up against a hillside of ponderosas. The roof had caved in around the chimney on the north side. Time reeled backwards as I got closer. Sitting on the old splintered porch was something I’ve never seen at a deserted homestead – an old rocking chair. The relic rocked ever so slightly on the creaky porch, coming to life in the breeze blowing from the west. Stumbling on this old cabin in the woods was lucky enough, but finding the chair in this vandalized world was a miracle! Who lived here once upon a time? Who left in such a hurry that they didn’t take their chair? A piece of history, that chair! Not only could it tell marvelous stories but it’s become a rare thing. They don’t even make covered porches anymore, and I’m not so sure they make rocking chairs – at least no one I know has one that they leave outside – if they even have a porch! I didn’t want to sit in this old rocker, but I sat down on a worn step and gave it some serious thought – how many babies were rocked in a loving mother’s arms in the chair? How many sunsets has it seen? Did someone take it inside in the fall so those cold northern blizzards that blew under the eaves wouldn’t fill its seat? Who would leave such a chair? Did they leave on horseback? Surely they had a wagon! I hesitated going through the front door, closed against the weather but not locked. The inside was empty except for a huge, cone-shaped pack rat nest, strategically placed over caved-in flooring.
I had lunch by an old fenced-in tangle of a garden. Toby played to his heart’s content. I finally had to tear myself away from this bucolic setting, taking one last look at the sweet little house, frozen in time. We made our way back to the woods, and the old rocking chair creaked its rocking rhythm and said good-bye.