Excerpt #8 - Nazareth In The Woods

The rough, but very sturdy log cabin stood a short distance from the bank of the slow flowing river which had been cutting through the valley for hundreds of thousands of years. This cabin was built from the Ponderosa Pine trees hewn from the immediately surrounding forest, and chinked with a solid mixture of sediment and tar. The mosses had covered the roof and were creeping down the walls, while ivy with purple flowers climbed over much of the front side of the cabin, where a covered overhang gave shelter to the entrance way which faced the river.

Inside, it consisted of little more than a large single room, with a stone fireplace immediately facing a visitor who walked through the front door. The chimney extended up the wall and protruded out through the ceiling. A table and two chairs were set up in the corner, and shelves and cupboards were randomly afixed to the walls. 

The loggers who had chosen this place to build their solitary outpost certainly did so because of its proximity to the river as a source of water and fish. Though unlikely, they may have also considered the primal and unmatched beauty of the place in locating it.

From the river bank, looking to the south, up over the tree line of the valley wall that you would have had to descend in order to get down to the cabin if you ever visited, you could see the barren north face of Blackbird Peak, which was so high that it remained snowcapped in the summer. The starkness of this white peak protruding up through the canopy of the forest intrigued Jeff, as if it carried some indecipherable message. His dad promised to take him to the peak when he became a stronger hiker and, more importantly, was able to stay out in the forest with him overnight because it would take at least two days to hike in and out, and a third day if they were to do any exploring in and around the peak.  For now, though, that was out of the question, and so it remained a promise and a hope, more tenuous than Jeff knew.    

If you turned your gaze to the north while you crouched next to the river, perhaps filling a water canister, you would see in the far off distance the thousand or so foot high raging waterfall whose water fed the slow moving river that slithered by the cabin, making little more than the sound of trickling water.  The mists flying off of this waterfall often birthed a small but vivid rainbow that hung midway up the jagged rock face of this cliff whenever the sun hung at the right angle – usually in the late afternoon, when it was time for Jeff and his dad to leave, to go home.  The rainbow was a sad reminder to the boy that his time with his dad out in the cabin must end, but also a promise that they would return again.

These views up and down the river could only be seen from the banks of the river, which cut through a canopy of trees so thick that the sun couldn’t touch the floor of the valley which, for the most part, was shrouded by the pines in perpetual shade. This place was a refuge for the boy and his dad.

Hanging over the front door was a piece of wood into which the words “Nazareth in the Woods” were carved. Jeff and his dad named the place when the boy pointed out that the cabin resembled the manger that his mom put out on the mantle at Christmastime. A simple structure with mosses growing on and hanging off the roof. No amenities to speak of. So simple that, unless something special happened inside, it would never be thought of as a place of any consequence. Levon knew the manger on the mantle was supposed to have been in Bethlehem, but he thought Nazareth sounded better, and he didn’t correct the boy’s misstatement of fact.

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Excerpts For The Pandemic
by M. Christian Rossman
©publishing313, Inc. 2020