Yesterday was Jim’s birthday. And Father’s Day. Emerald went rafting and had pizza for dinner. Jasper was in a HOBY leadership seminar until 3 pm in Caldwell. I picked him up and we drove 3 + hours in time for an evening soak at Burgdorf. I sent Jasper off to sleep a solid 14 hours in a cabin with a kerosene lantern and a wood fire, and then I snuck back down to the pool after dark. I had it to myself. Jim had requested that I deposit him in all 4 corners.
There is the corner where the big log always drifted to. The log is no longer there. I’m sure someone cracked their head on the side of the pool, and they had to remove it due to liability…but we sure had some fun times on it before that happened. There is the corner where they have built up the bottom with gravel in order for little kids to be able to stand. Both of my kids learned to love the water at Burgdorf. Emerald burnt her butt cheeks there diving for rocks. Jasper got his head wet for the first time. Emerald’s first inflatable was pink…and did not have oars. There was the corner by the lodge where Jim and I always hung our towels after we had put the kids to bed. We were always a little worried about leaving them behind in a cabin with a wood fire…but it was worth the risk. And the last corner…was the furthest from the lodge. On a cool night, with the steam coming off of the water, if we were quiet, we could be in that corner and when other adults came down after hours, they did not know we were there….
Jim took me to Burgdorf the first summer we were together. He was working for the forest service at Krassal Ranger Station, I had a job in Corvallis. He lived in a tent at his brother’s when he was not on site, I was living in his run down rental house to save money. A long weekend in McCall, the prospect of our own cabin at Burgdorf sounded heavenly. This was October of 1986. The pool had been drained for repairs. The cabins were so run down and dirty that we slept on the porch. We rode our bikes in snow up to Crystal mountain, and around the Loon Lake Loop before there was a bridge over the Secesh River. The hot tubs were still open…we used them, and fell a little more in love.
Last Fall, before entering Hospice, Jim and I went to Burgdorf for 3 days. Though I did not know exactly what the next few months would hold, I knew they would be hell. I also knew that our lives would be overrun with very welcome kindness and help, and that our opportunities for any alone time would be gone. In Jim’s last days, he spoke of that trip as a magical time. I’m not sure what he got out of it. He slept through most of it. I hiked alone, joined him on his few soaks, made him his meals….and cried with him in the evenings. Perhaps we fell a little more in love.
This year, after dropping Jasper in Caldwell, I had a couple of days to myself in McCall. I stayed with a friend who knew both of us back then, and is now living/farming again in the area after over 20 years in CO. Jim’s brother no longer lives there, but we ran into a construction friend of his when we were out for dinner before going to a play in the playhouse that he helped to restore. Burgdorf is getting a much-needed face lift…they are finally adding some toilets with tanks that can get pumped, and the new caretakers have done so much to the cabins and grounds….there was a fire in our stove upon our arrival.
I deposited Jim in the corners as per his request. On his birthday. He would have turned 52. On Father’s Day. I cried a little. Driving past the North Fork of the Payette 4 times over the course of 4 days reminded me of all the things Jim still wanted to do. All the places he still wanted to go. Being at Burgdorf reminds me of all the old things, all the old places that he would come back to. Over and over again. I loved him for that.
Today dawned sunny. Jasper finally woke up. We drove through the 8 foot tall snow tunnel that is Secesh pass to get back to McCall and then home. We stopped shy of the summit to scatter a little more of Jim in the snow. We had never been to Burgdorf in the Spring. We had never been there the week after they finally plowed the road. The creeks were raging. Snow and water everywhere. Snow that would eventually melt into the Secesh, into the South Fork, into the Salmon (he did not want to end up in the Snake).
Jim loved cycles. The kind you pedal with 2 wheels. The water cycle. The turn of the seasons. And…the love he left cycles through me still. In my daughter’s passion for white water. In my son’s hugs. I love him for that.