A Slice of Heaven

Time runs fast wherever you go. And, unfortunately—barring a sudden jump to light speed—it never slows down. It certainly never reverses course.

But there are places where time seems gentler, more malleable. In those places, it almost seems like time skips around. One minute you can feel like the father you are, and the next you might feel a child again.

For me, my parents’ cabin down near South Fork, Colo., is such a place.

I was down there last week to finish up a writing project. It was a business trip, plain and simple—a place where I could spend 10 uninterrupted hours a day in front of my computer and pound out page after page of prose. I wasn’t going to feed the squirrels or take any notice of the woodpeckers. The only thing that might distract me from work would be a bear in the kitchen–and then only if he was drinking all the milk.

 But when you go to a place where you’ve built so much history, it’s hard to not get a little distracted.

Before it was my parents’ cabin, it was my grandparents’. They owned it from before I was born, and about the first memory I have is of me tumbling down the stairs to the loft. Luckily, most of my memories there are far happier, since every corner of the place is stuffed with them: The loft where my cousin and I produced puppet shows for Grandma and Grandpa; the windows through which I’d witness woodland wars between the red and ground squirrels; the stakes we’d throw horseshoes at until we got blisters; the tiny TV we’d gather around to watch old musicals; the creaky porch swing where I’d sit and talk with my mom and dad for ages, the springs groaning under our weight.

It was a place as close to heaven as I could imagine. Time, it seemed, had little meaning there.

When I became a father, I wanted to give my own kids that same sense of serenity when we visited the cabin. I took them on many of the hikes I remembered as a boy. We played the same marathon games of horseshoes. Ate off the same dishes. Huddled around the same tiny TV to watch old musicals.

 And now, I know the sound of that old swing is as much a part of their memories as it is mine.

That’s my daughter, Emily, in the picture above with my wife Wendy, during her first trip to the cabin. She’s accumulated 18 more years of memories since then, and I think she loves it just as much as I did. As I do.

I got some work done at the cabin, for which I’m very grateful. And yet, in the midst of my deadline-driven todays, I found myself constantly slipping back to when I was a young father carrying my own kids around the cabin—or when I was the kid, and I was the one being carried.

So it was nice that, after a couple of days of work, Wendy and Emily came up to finish the visit up the right way. We hiked and drove and ate on the same dishes. We made a few more memories. I was a father and a child all at the same time. And it felt a little like heaven.