Monday, January 9, 2012

Fog and Fortune Cookies

This morning there was a severe weather alert about the dense, freezing fog.  I could see ice on the back deck, but the fog was way down in the Valley; I was sitting above it in the glorious sunshine of a crisp and clear Monday morning.

Since I am up the mountain and there are no guardrails to stop me from sliding into the abyss if there was ice on the road, I waited a bit before taking the boys down to the park.  Didn't have any trouble, as it turned out, but crap, it truly was freezing walking in that thick, creepy fog.

Got home and just had to take this mini video.  This is one of my favorite weird weather things: fog in the middle of southern Oregon.  I don't understand it, but there it is.  Oh, and take my advice here...keep the mute on.  I swear, there can't be a more dorky-sounding creature than me on a video.  I say freezing frog, then actually snort before correcting myself.  Jeez, spare yourselves people.  Just watch the video in peaceful silence and forget listening to the voice-over.


Once a week, Jan (the BFF) and I talk on the phone.  This has been going on ever since we went in different directions about 15 years ago--no matter where we are, we talk once a week--I stayed in Seattle, then went to Scotland, she went to Idaho.  Yesterday during our afternoon catch up, she told me this cool story.

First though, background...

Jan grew up in LA, though her mom came from northern Idaho originally.  Jan would spend her summers with her grandparents, deep in the woods of the Panhandle.  She loved it so much that her goal in life was to eventually live there.  She left Seattle, bought a cute little house, and then had to figure out what the hell she was going to do for money in this tiny, backwoods part of the world.

In the meantime, her grandfather has passed away, and her granny has moved from the deep woods into town--town being a relative word.  Jan is mowing her gran's big yard one day, shortly after moving there, and the old lady across the street asks Jan if she could mow hers as well.  One thing leads to another and before too long, Jan is landscaper, handywoman, helper and driver for a veritable village of little old ladies--she is one of the most hardworking, resourceful people I know, and one of the most caring and generous.

Of course, over time, some of her little ladies pass away, go into care, move away from the rigors of a harsh northern climate, but somehow, there are always others to take their place.  Jan is a 24/7/365 woman, and rarely stops except for once a year when she goes back to LA for two-three weeks.  Whenever I've been able to visit, she makes me work alongside her, going on her jobs, meeting the ladies, being her slave.  If I didn't do this, I wouldn't see her.  She takes her job seriously.  There have been a few times where she's nearly killed me, but that's a story for another day.

Anyway.  Back to yesterday...

Fay, one of Jan's ladies from almost the beginning, passed away a few months ago.  She was very independent, and other than Jan stopping in every morning to check on her or help with chores, she lived pretty much on her own, way out of town in the real wilderness.  She was feisty, funny and drove Jan crazy with her bossiness, though they had a true friendship.  Fay was one-of-a-kind, a wonderful pioneer woman who lived in an inhospitable environment and loved it for all of her 93 years.

Her family wanted to sell her place--several acres, a great log cabin, outbuildings, wild turkey, deer, moose and bear--and asked Jan if she would take on the task of clearing out the house and grounds so they could sell it.  (Family lives in another state).  Jan agrees and works out a schedule so she can spend at least two days per week on this task.  Later they decided to keep the place in the family--a good thing--but still wanted Jan to carry on.

So far, she has spent a couple months on this, and the other day decided to work on the storage shed behind the house, just to give herself a break from the sorting, cleaning and packing in the house.  She finds all kinds of extra foodstuffs, like cereals, and chips, and other things that Fay had squirreled away.  Nothing that could be donated to the local foodbank, but could sure be scattered in the snow for the birds and wildlife.

By the time Jan has reached the bottom of the barrel, so to speak, she's come across two huge bags of fortune cookies.  Shaking her head, smiling at her old friend's funny choices, she tosses handfuls of the cookies all over the back field...about 400 of them.

Days go by, then Saturday--one of the two days per week alloted--Jan goes to Fay's and begins to pack things from the kitchen.  During the process, she glances out the window and sees something odd in the snow, across the yard in the field.  Puzzled, she can't figure out what she's looking at, though it seems like confetti has been strewn all over the place, little bits of color catching her eye in the winter sunlight.

Later, after hauling some boxes into the garage, she wanders out to the field.  And stops in amazement.  The birds have eaten all the fortune cookies, but left the fortunes.  Hundreds of little pieces of colored paper, frozen in place, all over the field.  Jan bursts out laughing, and plucks one up.  It's in perfect condition, words clear and visible:  You will have a long and happy life.  Again she laughs before going back to work.

Yesterday she told me that every time she goes out to Fay's, she's going to seek her fortune.

I love it.  And how much do I wish I were there with my camera..??  Can't you just picture this..??  A cabin deep in the forest, a large clearing covered in pure, white snow, little strips of color laying everywhere to brighten the scene, and the silence filled with fortunes yet to be read. 

A very cool story.

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