Saturday, November 7, 2009

sketch #1 Home in El Rancho

here it sat, the little trailer house, like a Coors can tossed out the window of a passing pickup.

You approached it from the east.  Its berth was scraped out of the side of a hill, as tall as the trailer itself, so you didn’t even see it until you were almost past.  And if you were sailing down the road at that harmonic speed where you float across the washboard ruts, you’d miss it altogether.
Opposite was an arroyo that flowed from the barren barrancas and foothills to the south.  Widening and flattening, it merged briefly with the road, then resumed its final couurse, between adobe houses shaded by lombardy poplars, between their fields and orchards, and at last, into the weaving, tamarisk choked mud flats and trickles of the Nambe.

a city boy no more...
the arroyo is in the background

If you didn’t fly past—if you stopped and pulled in beside the arroyo—you could mount the stoop—a pallet with a scrap of carpet, set on cinder blocks—and enter the trailer house through its sun blasted door.

It was only on the other side of the door that the little house revealed its modest charms.  Its walls were paneled with maple or birch, the rising and falling patterns of the bookmatched grain resonating with the rugged terrain beyond.  Windows wrapped the south end, scanning the Sangre de Cristos to the east, the Jemez to the west, and the empty lands between.  A plaque above the centermost window denoted the pride the Great Lakes Mobile Home company took in its manufacture.


At the opposite end of the space was a perfunctory kitchen.  Beyond, a miniature bathroom, a nook large enough for a child’s bed—and finally—a bedroom with enough room to walk around one side of a double bed.

Somewhere there was a closet capable of stowing a partially dissembled motorcycle.  There must have been a bench in the nook, because I recall overhauling the engine block of my ’61 F-100, inside, where it was clean and warm.

Maybe not so warm.  Waking up on a winter morning, with the temperature at 5 below zero, there would be a halo of frost on the wall around your head.  There was a propane furnace next to the kitchen, but even set at full blast, it seemed to make no difference in the bedroom.

Or warmer than warm.  In the summer, with the sun pouring in through the bay windows, you knew how a dog felt, locked in a car with the windows rolled up.  Haling from the muggy east, I was not familiar with swamp coolers, and it took me half the summer to understand the basic principles.  By the time I figured it out—all it needed was to trim the rotten end of the water supply tube, and snug it down with a new hose clamp—the worst of summer had past.

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