“I made soup,” Quilt Artist said when she arrived at my house Friday afternoon. As I piled my stuff in her car – sleeping bag, pillow, clothes, books – I smiled at the pot of soup wedged tightly in the back seat. Homemade soup is the perfect food for a fall weekend in the mountains.
The trip went quickly, since we talked the whole time, but still it was dark by the time we wound past the last couple of mountain lakes and into the driveway of the beautiful old camp that belongs to Signing Woman’s family. Dancing Woman and Makes Bread had arrived earlier, and they were busy in the kitchen, roasting vegetables and squeezing lemon onto hunks of salmon. They hadn’t turned on the lights in the rest of the building, and it seemed a little spooky as I went off to explore and figure out which room I wanted to sleep in. We usually stayed in a smaller building next door; this would be my first time sleeping in the big building.
Built in the days when wealthy families wanted luxurious “camps” in the mountains for summer vacations, the summer cottage is over 100 years old. The kitchen where my friends were busy chopping vegetables included a butler’s pantry and a back staircase that once led up to the servants’ quarters. The main room is lined with huge windows, as well as four sets of double doors. I opened just a few to feel the wind from the lake rush right through the house.
The tower holds a spiral staircase with railings made from birch logs. I couldn't find the light switch, but I loved the way the smell of wood greeted me as I walked up. In the dimly lit hallway at the top, I felt like my eyes were playing tricks with me. I saw what seemed to be a person duck quickly out of sight. When I turned, the same thing happened again. I quickly decided that I’d explored enough.
“I want a roommate,” I announced when I got back to the kitchen. “I’m not sleeping alone.”
The spooky feeling disappeared when another carload of my friends arrived. Signing Woman went quickly around to switch on lights. She’s come to this summer cottage her whole life: she knows where everything is. Quilt Artist offered to be my roommate and we picked out the large bedroom at the top of the stairs: I fell in love with the big wooden desk and the wooden balcony outside the room. Mystic Woman chose one of the little bedrooms, once a maid’s room. “Yeah, lots of spirits moving around up here,” she said casually, as she tossed her blanket and pillow on the bed. Nothing fazes her.
Downstairs, the wind that rushed through the many windows felt a bit cool, so I found the woodbox and began a fire in the huge stone fireplace. We spent the rest of the evening eating and talking in front of the crackling flames. I felt content as I crawled into my bed at the end of the night, filled with soup, and listened to the water lapping outside the window.