Mountain Time


Ivan Doig is one of my favorite authors and I am thoroughly enjoying his novel Mountain Time.

He pulled up in front of the house.  His father’s pickup was not there, but rolling stock of several other kinds abounded around the place–vestigial tractors and several generations of self-stacking hay bale haulers (none of which, Mitch recalled, ever worked worth a damn), and the power buckrake his father had driven before bale-stacking gizmos came into vogue, and the truck of all purposes called the Blue Goose, now mostly rust.  Lyle Rozier’s knickknack drawer was in his yard.

The skeletal traffic jam aside, the Rozier place looked barely populated.  The four wavery aspens out front that his father forever bed agricultural fertilizer were the thinnest of sentries.  The house itself seemed gaunt, life only in its lower half; the upstairs you could tell from the hazy unwashed windows, as a deck of unoccupied bedrooms.  Downstairs, the ancient lacy curtains hung like doilies on a packing crate.  Mitch climbed out of the Honda and walked down the gravel driveway toward the kitchen door.  There was the large gray canker in the soil not many feet from the kitchen steps, where in the time before sewers and garbage collection reached this end of town his family tossed the wash water and stove ashes, and for that matter emptied the slop pail.  The lye of the soap and ashes had killed the ground for good.


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