Thursday, March 9, 2017

Stranger in the night

Around 11 o'clock last night there came a knocking on my door. This is not good form in bear country even in winter. A strange, out-of-place noise on the porch, the first thing a guy grabs is a gun. So, I called through the door, "who's there?" A rather timid voice called back something like, "I am cold. Could I come in and warm up?"
     I cracked the door open carefully, checked him out from head to toe, didn't see a weapon or for that matter claws and gnashing teeth, in fact I saw a human being who appeared to need some help. I had just started my going-to-bed routine and wasn't really looking for anything that could delay that downhill slide into sleep.
     Nevertheless, I welcomed him in and closed the door behind him. I moved a chair close to the wood stove where he could sit and warm himself.
     We chatted a little and slowly his story came out. He had gone to a nearby lake ice fishing with his cousin. At some point the cousin had gone out to the trail head on his snowmachine and left this guy to walk to the cousin's cabin in the dark in territory where he had never been before.
    In the dark, the fellow missed the trail to the cabin and had walked two miles along the main trail before he saw my lights and decided to seek some shelter. At the moment I realized as I had been preparing to go to sleep, if he had come by 15 minutes later, my lights would have been turned off. My cabin is maybe a quarter mile from the trail and high on a hill so he never would have spotted it in the dark.
     I had looked him over for signs of hypothermia, the temperature had dropped to about 5 degrees, but he seemed all right. At least he was suitably dressed for this journey. I put some water on to boil to make him some hot chocolate and as it was coming out that the cousin was returning at some point, I asked him if he had a flashlight. He didn't. Fortunately the moon illuminated the woods enough help a little. He said he had been using the flashlight app on his iPhone but his battery was down to 15 percent. He used some of that 15 percent to call his cousin. I had not turned off the generator yet so the cellular signal booster was still functioning and the call went through.
     The cousin had made it to the trailhead and was ready to head back. I could hear the cousin arguing about things rather than figuring out how to meet. I didn't have much respect for the cousin to begin with – leaving this guy alone walking in the dark through unfamiliar terrain. The guy was trying to explain where he was and how he had missed their cabin but all the cousin did was shout insults.
    The charge on his phone had probably fallen dangerously low at this point and I asked him what kind of phone it was. Perfect. I had my iPhone connected and charging and my cord fit his phone and thankful again the generator was still running, we plugged his in.
    By this time the water boiled and I mixed some cocoa for him. He described where he had been and what he had passed while walking and I was able to figure out the general area of the cabin's location.
    I drew him a map showing all the landmarks and where he was and the time and where he needed to go and also showed him a map on my iPad to give him a better picture of what I had drawn.
    We decided the best thing for him would be to walk back down to the main trail and be on it when his cousin returned on his snowmachine and they could go on together.
    I suggested he call the cousin again so we could get a time line for when he ought to be on the trail. Via texts we learned he was just starting out, so I checked the clock to get this fellow going in about half an hour.
    We sat at the table and chatted while he sipped his hot chocolate and as subtly as I could I asked more questions in another attempt to ascertain any hypothermia symptoms.
     It turned out he had grown up in Alaska but a few years ago he had ventured south, ending up in Southern California where he worked as a painter on movie sets.
     I shared a little of my life but being wary of strangers, not too much. I kept my eye on the clock and when half an hour had passed, I gave him the map I had drawn, a cheap spare flashlight and a bottle of Ensure for some energy on the trail just in case. I had him enter my phone number into his phone in case something went wrong. By then it had reached 45 percent charged, a little better margin for him, again, just in case.
    I watched him walk down the trail. When he reached the area I had been hauling firewood from with its tangle of interlocking loopy trails he followed the wrong one for a moment; it was a small loop that took him back to the main trail and gave me a little chuckle as I relaxed a bit when I felt he was safely on his way to the main trail.
    I shut down all the noisemakers in the cabin so I could hear a snowmachine down on the main trail. After about 15 minutes I heard it and went out onto the porch to listen. Soon enough it stopped and then I could hear voices talking. Connected again, they drove away deeper into the woods.
    I went back to my bed time routine and it was then I noticed, such a small thing, but an indication of character. With all that was going on and the worries about what was ahead, he had thought to put his cup into the sink with the other dirty dishes. I had to smile at that. It told me he was probably going to be all right.


  1. Nicely written!

  2. It's possible that you saved his life. Way to go, Tim.

  3. Lucky he hit your cabin in his wanderings. It's big country out there, and being lost on a cold night doesn't sound like a good thing.

  4. So glad you were there for him. I love how you wrote this story.


Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve