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Monday, 3 October 2011

Leaving The Red House on the Niobrara

Well, there’s no escaping the fact: October’s here and I will shortly be on my way. Today, Saturday, I have dropped off various packages – things that people have loaned me - at the gas station. I have been to Gordon and bought my last bag of groceries, which included a rib-eye steak. Up at the care home I managed to link up with Tanya and visit Caroline Sandoz again, but really I think I got my best response when I showed her those books of hers earlier in the week. Still, I told her who I was and wished her well.
When I was at the gas station I bumped into Kitty, who was on her way to Valentine. She’d read what I wrote the other day about the Sandhills calling to me and fished out copies of two very touching poems she wrote when Matt was away in Afghanistan, poems in which she says precisely that – that they are calling to him.

So little by little I am tidying loose ends, and today I started on the dreary business of packing my things together. I seem to have more than I came with – like the tent, for a start. As to the lucky snake-proof boots – by which I mean that as soon as I bought them every danged rattler in the county took flight – I think I am going to donate them to the red house. They ain’t required in England. We did away with most of our snakes ages ago. I’ve also disposed of my straw hat. It’s done the job required of it, but that fact is that one good soaking stretched it to the point where it never fitted me properly. I gave it a decent send-off, on the same ceremonial pyre on which I burned a lot of surplus paperwork.

Tomorrow the packing begins in earnest - unless I dare put it off until Monday, but that’ll simply mean that I have to tackle the general tidying and clean-up instead. Not only have I to vacuum up the sand-burs, but I now have an invasion wasps, house-flies and a bumbling sort of beetle. I think it’s the bugs’ last hurrah before a nice frost comes and sees them off in a week or two

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I’m updating this on Monday morning as I start cleaning the kitchen, emptying the fridge and freezer. I took a quiet stroll to the river while the sun was coming up -  not that you see it from down there: it’s hidden behind the bluffs. I found a hen turkey with eight youngsters, quite untroubled by my presence. I guess they know they’re out season – and they didn’t see me throwing out the last portion of turkey hot-pot. On my way back up to the house I saw something that I would hesitate to put into a book, it being such a cliché: a flight of geese heading south.

I had a very productive weekend, putting the finishing touches to the manuscript I’ve been producing, its latest working title Red House by the Running Water. I dare say it’ll get changed again, but I do want “red house” in the title. I am really very happy with my opening and my ending, but expect I’ll want to change a few parts in the middle.

I had planned to leave here tomorrow morning but I have a feeling I may actually take off once I’ve got the place cleaned up. What am I go ing to do, sit here and stir up more dirt? Besides, once the sun comes around to the kitchen window I will be doing what I’ve done for the past several days, swatting a dozen flies and wasps every hour and littering up the nice clean sills.

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