* Editor’s note: Marion is taking the day off. This column first ran in 2005.
I’m sorry you’re learning this from the newspaper but I have to tell you, hubby Bob, that I’m a woman in love.
And no, my new love isn’t you.
Like other unsuspecting husbands, you have failed to notice the symptoms, even though I thought they were clear. How could you have missed the whole incident last week?
It began when you and I were up at our newly finished cabin by the river on the weekend, and we finally took the lid off the propane tank and peered at the gauge.
It said “0.”
This sent me into high gear, trying to find a company to sell us propane. I guess you thought that an empty tank — meaning no heat and no hot water — was explanation enough for my behavior.
When I spent two solid hours on the phone Tuesday interviewing propane distributors, you thought I was trying to find the best price.
The only reason I did it was because I knew what the next step might be.
When I gave our new propane company the code to open the neighborhood gate and the code to open our individual gate, you watched me anxiously, as if I had just divulged my social security number on the Internet or dropped my Visa on the roadway.
“Giving out the codes makes me nervous,” you said.
You failed to notice how eager I was to call the man back and how deftly I said to him, “I’m thinking of driving up there for the first delivery.”
He answered, “We don’t need you to do that, but it’s a good idea if you want to be there.”
“Perfect!” I thought.
By the time I hung up the telephone, my plans were in place. On a weekday night — when you couldn’t accompany me — I would drive up and stay in our cabin.
Didn’t you think it was a little strange that I proposed making an unnecessary trip when we had neither heat nor hot water?
Did you forget how I hate to sleep cold?
Actually, you didn’t forget that part, but I assured you that I’d bring a portable electric heater.
I also explained that I planned to arrive right at bedtime, so I could slip under the covers and keep warm. Didn’t you recall that I normally avoid driving when I might get sleepy?
At 8:45 p.m. Wednesday evening, I throw my bag in the car and begin the hour and ten minute drive to Coloma.
As usual, I can’t believe how the bustle and noise of Sacramento drops off behind me, as if earthquaked into the ocean, after I turn off Highway 50. My cell phone goes silent, too.
At 9:45 I punch the first gate code and travel on the half-dirt, completely dark country road that leads to our property. The roadside trees press in around me. My heart quickens as I watch for the rabbits, wild turkeys and deer that sometimes cross the roadway.
Finally stopping in front of our gate, I turn off the car radio and step out into the silent evening. As I stand at the top of the hill, the world falls away behind me and I feel close to the heavens. Hundreds of stars canopy above me. The moon is a sliver lying on its side like a cradle.
Down our long driveway, still out of sight, our two-room cabin awaits.
I drive down slowly and park. Breathless with anticipation, I put a hand on the doorknob, a key in the lock. I pause to listen to the river, closer now, whispering its way through the silence of the night.
Bob, I open the door and carry my bag in, just the way I do when you come with me.
One light is burning. In the dish rack are the dishes we used last weekend, ready to be used again. One glass lies out on the table. Around the corner, is the only other room, the bedroom, with its huge bed.
Eager as I am (and cold) I pause in the living room. I stare out the window into the gentle darkness. I listen to the river. I remember that, if I want to, I can take my kayak down tomorrow morning and put it in the water right here.
Finally, I turn away from one room I love and head for the second.
You found this place for us, Bob; you earned the money that allowed us to buy it, and you designed the cabin. I will never stop being grateful. But I don’t think you know yet that you created your own competition, another home for my heart.
You’ve turned me into a country-loving gal for whom the propane delivery was just a ruse, sweetheart.
I’m here on a Wednesday.
I scored an extra day.
— Marion Franck lives in Davis with her family. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org