We had a wonderful outing; the high point was checking out the junk at the Cantwell Trading Post. I had the most fun of all us, junk seems to bring out the best in me. Maybe this is because I see what might be. For example, I made note of a small camper that had a half horse half human painted on the outside and suggested to Bonnie that she purchase it and do a road trip. “And,” I added, “you could buy a vehicle here with which to pull it.” All Bonnie did was roll her eyes, meaning “fat chance.”
I told both Bonnie and Shelby that I’d love to own this place. I don’t think they thought I was serious. But you know, if I had the cash, I would more than consider this.
I spent the afternoon with Suzi Lozo, who I met shortly after I moved into the above mentioned cabin. The first time I met her, she was focused on hooking up the cabin propane tank. She was then very brusque. She was wearing a used snowsuit that was duct taped in places, and bunny boots. She’d just gotten back from a stint in the Brooks Range. I didn’t think that we’d ever become friends.
I discovered that, indeed, she was a warm, caring person. I didn’t get to know her really well because I was then focused on studying for my upcoming MFA exams. She and Pete did become buddies – they spent a lot of time checking out junk at the local thrift stores. It was then the post-pipeline era and there was a lot of good stuff to be had. Pete bought me a pair of down pants, which I still have.
This was the first time ever that Suzi and I talked at length sans boyfriends and other people. Her then black hair is now gray. Her face, which was then slightly weathered, is extremely weathered now. She was strong and muscular then and is strong and muscular now. A number of years back she and her then partner Sean McGuire split up. Suzi chose to remain in her cabin on the Cloudberry property and now owns two other cabins.
Her two story cabin is distant from the others – it is surrounded by vegetation and both an in ground garden and a container garden. She says that the prospect of growing vegetables has never interested her as much as has growing flowers.
Her upper porch has numerous chairs and is screened in from the mosquitoes.
Suzi is currently assisting a 93 year old woman, so she kept her distance from me. We also both wore masks. The mask was uncomfortable and fogged up my glasses. She at one point pointed out to a hanging wicker chair which she calls the Vortex, because it spins around and grants her wishes. I called it the Gortex Vortex because it’s out in the elements.
We both traipsed a bit down memory lane, talking about people who are far and near, and far and dear. This included the members of the Fuller clan, who then lived at the end of Cloudberry. Bill is deceased, and the others are sprinkled about like dice. I mentioned to Suzi that I have most of his archival material, and she said that she actually has the rest. So someday we will have to put it all together and do something with it.
Last night I read an essay in an anthology by Alaskan writers. It was one I found in the salvage bin at the recycling center. One of the writers chose to write about traipsing down memory lane with Bill – I just did not think that the essay did him justice. Those who read it and did not know him would want to know more.
We also talked books. Suzi said that this past winter she read ALL of Wendell Berry’s fiction. I was surprised because I didn’t know that Berry wrote fiction. I put reading his work on my reading to-do list.
Talking with Suzi dissipated my fears about this trip. It was a long ride, and it is going to take nerves of steel to complete this trip. Yeah, there’s a shoulder, but it seemed narrow to me. And the few semis we saw – they were moving so fast. My word.
It’s now raining, and the mosquitoes are out in force. I am glad to be staying in one of Suzi’s cabins, that is the one she’s set aside for people like me, who come visiting. I brought some books along and I put them on a bookshelf. In this way, I am lightening my load.
Next: 172. 6/21/20: Summer Solstice, Fairbanks, Alaska