The front door nob when turned emits a pervasive little squeal upon the first turn, never the second or third, such that our comings and goings are never a secret. The squeak begs for lubrication, and goes without—once the door shuts, I forget, for the squeal comes with the opening not the shutting of the door. Out that door we piled, into the suburban, loaded with coolers and cabanas and chairs, on our excursion “to the Uintas” the old east-west range in the younger north-south Rockies. We set the “easy-up” cabana over the picnic table at the edge of Moose Horn Lake, and we eased Mom and Dad down the shallow trail to their camp chairs under the cabana from where they gazed out over the lake where the zebra trout were rising for gnats, at the towhee flitting low in the dwarf spruces, at the robin dangling a worm lakeside, at the paintbrush and wild strawberry and blue columbine blossoms, at the layered formations on the back side of Bald Mountain, some lying flat and dark, others standing crumbled and rusty, evidence of tectonic cataclysm. These views formed Dad’s definition and experience of wonder. “I used to come here when I was young,” Dad began, recounting how he bought an old jalopy and cut off the roof to make the car a convertible and draped a blanket over the occupants with holes cut out for their heads, how he put a “bumble bee” on his fly line and lowered it from his perch on a house-sized boulder and how when the bee hung six inches above the water an enormous trout leapt to devour the bee and how the beautiful sleek strong creature hung wriggling for a moment then flipped itself free and flew back to the water. Dad told us how he came often to the lakes of the high Unitas to fish, and how his best fishing day was when the rain drizzled down and he floated his fly and the fishes struck and struck and he caught and caught. Purple-black clouds began to gather, as they can do several times a day in these high mountains, and knowingly we packed up and shoved off, grateful to be in a warm suburban with a roof to protect us from the sudden deafening blinding hailstorm that carpeted the forest with billions of white balls of ice. Might this be Dad’s last trip to the Uintas, where he can relive in context the happy youthful memories of driving the jalopy and dangling the bee and looking up into the rain? Reaching home, 98 degrees Fahrenheit to the Uinta’s 46, I turned the door knob and did not hear the iconic squeal, for I had oiled it as we left.
Pictured above: Glacier Lilies