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 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: October 29, 2017      Views: 212
 ...Prologue 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 12 13... 

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J Dan Francis splits his time between Albany, NY, and the Adirondack Mountains, and is currently employed as a tractor trailer driver. His many jobs and a lifetime spent up north at the family cabin have provided him with countless stories to tell. H - more...

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Chapter 8 of the book Along the Road Through the 46
A hiker comes upon a mysterious cabin in the Adirondacks
"The Cabin in the Valley" by J Dan Francis

   Twelve miles hiked, maybe thirteen; I was growing more tired and confused with every step. I was hot and hungry, and down to my last swallow of water. I could have filled my canteen at any number of coldwater springs along the way but had put it off in hopes of making better time. In retrospect, it was a bad idea.

   I came out of the forest into a valley where a pond called Boreas was just ahead. I found a spring close by feeding into it. I dropped to my knees and scooped the cool water desperately with my cupped hands, drinking copiously. With abandon I splashed a liberal amount onto my face and torso. When fully quenched and cooled, I filled my canteen. I was never so gratified as when I knelt at that spring.

   I began to look around and noticed something off in the distance that caught my eye. I could see it clearly through the tall goldenrod that grew along the water's edge. A simple, sturdy cabin made of stone and cordwood. Behind the cabin looming majestic, were the Gothics and Saddleback Mountains I had hoped to climb in the coming days. I was struck with awe and thought it a beautiful view to behold in any season. I was instantly drawn to this place.

  The cabin had an inviting front porch with two wooden rustic rocking chairs. The chairs were rocking slightly in the breeze as if ghosts were occupying them, watching over what may have once been their home. A large wide fireplace and chimney made of cobblestone and granite rose up one side of the cabin. I think winter would be most comfortable holding up inside this place. On the other end was a window, and below the window was a shelf, and on that shelf rested two freshly baked fruit pies cooling in the summer breeze. I thought of home and of my mother, and my grandmother, and my sisters, and of the pies they made together and how delicious their pies would be right about now.

   To the right of the cabin lay a field of wildflowers, imaginative and endless in all its beauty. And, in one corner of that field of wildflowers were four sets of wooden boxes stacked three high. They were beehives for collecting honey, and honeybees were flying in and out and all around.

   To the left sat a barn with an old rusty tractor sitting beside it under a rickety lean-to roof. A windmill-pump peeked up from between the cabin and the barn. It was missing a few blades and squeaked as it struggled to pump water into a trough sitting below a rusty spigot. I thought I would fill my water bottle at the windmill. A split timber fence surrounded the humble homestead. Two horses, a mare and a gelding, ran chaotically back and forth within their confinement. The gelding stopped, stared at me, then shook his head and long mane. I think he was pleading for me to unlock the gate. He gave up, turned and ran to join the mare, and together they ran off to the water trough beneath the windmill to quench their thirst.

   Further left of the barn was a garden guarded by a scarecrow made from old overalls, a ripped flannel shirt, and a straw hat. Corn and squash, tomatoes and carrots, and lettuce grew unmolested in the garden. Apple and pear trees stood along the ridge-line at the edge of the woods that ran along the back of the barn and cabin.

    I walked in closer in my yearning at the sight of this place. It was beautiful and meek, and it was calling me. I had to see more. But as I made my way through a thicket of hobblebush and coming out the other side I saw the house and barn fade to nothingness as if it had been an illusion; a mirage. I was shaken. I looked around but could not find it. I could not see the gelding or the mare, nor did I hear the music of the off-balanced windmill. Even the garden and fruit trees and field of wildflowers with its hard-working honeybees was no more.

   Two boulders sat in the tall grass where the rocking chairs would have been on that alluring porch rocking lightly in the breeze. All that was left was the pond called Boreas. I hiked on bewildered in my thoughts and overcome at my loss.

   I found the road into the Village of Keene and followed it up to the General Store and Deli. I needed to stock up on supplies before the climb up those mountains. I could not get that cabin out of my head.  It was all just a dream, I thought. But it seemed so real, and my mind was swirling. I just needed to get something to eat and it would be all right. Walking in I greeted the proprietors, a man standing by the cashregister, and woman working behind the deli counter. He nodded, she grunted; they didn't look overjoyed that I was there. I took a carry basket and walked up and down the aisles grabbing what I would need for the trail; three cans of beans, bread, beef jerky, and a small box of animal crackers. I asked the woman behind the counter if she would make me a bologna and cheese sandwich. Without a word she commenced. 

   An old man was in the back getting a quart of beer out of the cooler. He was quiet, maybe too quiet, because the man behind register was watching his every move. "What's up with that, I wonderd?" The whole place seemed kinda spooky, almost like what had happened to me back on the trail earlier. After I paid for my groceries I worked up the nerve and mentioned somewhat matter-of-fact to the man and woman behind the counter my weird experience about the vanishing cabin. They looked at each other in a way that told me they had heard the same story before. The man quickly deflected my dilemma and told me there was no such place in this valley, and maybe I was delusional from the long hike. He said there were only a couple of run-down hunting camps that remained on that parcel and that is probably what I saw, and I must have lost my bearing or something, losing sight of it. I scratched my head trying to digest what he said. I wasn't buying it. The woman handed me my sandwich. She had nothing to say. She then stared at the old man standing behind me holding his quart of beer. That look she gave him seemed to be a warning for him to tell me nothing. He looked down at his feet and remained silent.

   The old man quickly paid for his beer and bolted through the door ahead of me. As I followed him across the parking lot, He turned around and looked past me to make sure the man and woman from the General Store were not watching us. He put out his hand and stopped me. Without so much as a greeting he began to mention that he too had seen that same cabin and the horses and all that I had described, some forty years ago when he had come from the city to hike this valley. He told me he had never gone back to where he had come from and settled here to find his elusive desire. He seemed disturbed by what I had told the man and woman inside the general store. He seemed anxious for more information. He asked me if there was anything else, I could tell him. But I had nothing I could recall.

   He told me he had tasted the honey from the beehives that sat in the field of wildflowers and it was the most superb honey he had ever had. But, when he had come within reach of the fruit pies on the cooling shelf below the window, suddenly he felt lightheaded, and everything began to swirl around him, and the cabin and the field of wildflowers and the barn and the horses just disappeared into thin air. The old man walked off sad. He did not even bid me well or say goodbye. He stopped, looked back at me, and said, "forty years I have searched for that cabin, and all I have for it, is a lost dream."



The book continues with The Woman at Chapel Pond. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
This is another installment in the collection of shorts I am doing called "Along the Road Through the 46"
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