I holed up in a secluded little cabin with my family in the snowy mountains of Bluestone State Park the first three days of 2010. Outside the wilderness temperatures plunged below 10 degrees, leaving us with a new dusting of snow each morning. We kept a fire burning in the brick fireplace at all times, fueling it with logs from the stack in the backyard. My weekend uniform consisted of ski pants, a puffy down coat, and snow boots. We cooked oatmeal for breakfast and hot soup for dinner and sipped hot cocoa in between. It was three days of snow angels, wind gusts, and snowy footprints.
One morning we walked down the long road from our cabin, winding around rugged hillsides to a trail behind a tiny red cabin that led into the forest. That afternoon we took a drive to Pipestem Resort State Park where we spotted dozens of deer. They were extra shaggy, giving them a prehistoric look. The furry young ones with blunt faces looked as sweet as puppies. I snapped lots of pictures of them, and the forested hills framing Bluestone Lake, and anything else that caught my eye, from pine cones and icicles to frozen waterfalls.
I’d had fears about spending a weekend isolated in the wilderness in a two bedroom cabin (I’d get the cot) with my family, as my tolerance for a certain young couple’s use of the terms “hubby” and “honey” and “sweetie” was already waning. But in the woods I forgot my frustrations, if only for a few brief moments such as an especially competitive round of Uno or Sequence by the fire.
My brother brought along his laptop with its stand (for ergonomic purposes, he reasoned), state-of-the-art headphones (with a splitter for his wife), and a wireless mouse and keyboard (again, ergonomics). He planned to work on his forthcoming philosophy book. I’m serious. I was content curled up on the not-so-comfy couch with cup after cup of green tea reading La Casa de los Espiritus. I’d brought along the Isabel Allende novel rather than Soren Kierkegaard’s A Fragment of Life -- a 640-page philosophical discourse on the ethical versus the aesthetic that my brother and sister-in-law gave me for Christmas. (Maybe he's trying to send me a message? I got him a pair of slim-fit J. Crew jeans.)
On the way home we stopped at Concord University in Athens, WV where my parents met in 1977. On campus they subjected us to the details of their meeting and courtship. They pointed out the student union where a mutual friend introduced them, the pine grove where they'd stroll, and the window of the TV lounge on the bottom floor of their tower dormitories where they'd spent their evenings.
I'm happy that this on-campus love affair led (one two-month engagement and seven years later) to me, but I count myself lucky that I didn't inherit the genetic inclination for collegiate matrimony. (Click here for more photos of our snowy weekend in the mountains.)