Monday, October 18, 2010
Today is Oct. 18 and I have 18 days left of this residency before I fly home to Ohio. I'm sitting in Buck's log cabin at Ucross. The internet has been very spotty in my studio and here at Buck's, well, this is internet central. Computer-wise, this is the G-spot, the eye of the perfect storm, the hole in the donut. Who in the hell is Buck? Well, he was a local character in this part of Wyoming. A hunter. A drinker. A guy who liked women and guns and must've been a real hell-raiser. A throwback to a time I can barely imagine.
I'm creeped out by Buck's cabin. There are photos all over his little cabin featuring photographs of him and his buddies hunting. In one photo, Buck is smoking a cigar and holding a woodchuck over his shoulder. It looks like he's about to toss it like a football. In another photo, a badger (stuffed?) sits at a table, smoking a cigarette, a can of Budweiser between his paws.
There are lots of black and white photos of Buck posing with dead animals like moose, deer, elk, elephants, and other animals I can't identify.
The picture that really gets to me though is of the bear. Buck, rifle in one hand, stands next to this big bear. The bear is seated on a chair and there's a rope muzzle looped around his jaws. Buck looks like the master of his domain, exuberant, proud. Maybe the bear was a pet. But I don't think so. The bear looks helpless and sad. I feel really sorry for the bear. Considering how Buck's walls are plastered with photos of animals he blasted from here to Kingdom Come, my bet is he killed the bear.
There's some weird mojo in his cabin. Seriously. I get a bad feeling there. Or, maybe not a bad feeling per se, but a sense that normal dimensions are porous, that the regular rules of time and space didn't necessarily apply in this one particular location.
Nosing around his cabin, I noticed a pair of stiff leather chaps nailed to the wall. There was a dusty black piano built by Vose & Sons (estab 1851) and a peace pipe. There were also lots of deer antlers and a framed document stating that Lloyd "Buck" Bader was a member of Buffalo Hunters of America. This organization, the document states, was composed of men who were "boys at heart. Men who, while shooting a buffalo, were probably thinking of early history." The document was dated Nov. 9, 1955.
I don't mean to sound judgmental. Buck donated his cabin and the land surrounding it to Ucross. Here's another thing. I think Buck was from Ohio.
On his library shelves (in the kitchen) there were dozens of books, including "The Outdoor Life Bear Book (50 Great stories! Terrifying Attacks! Exciting Hunts!) and "Fix Your Chevrolet." Also "Scrub Dog of Alaska" and "The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures."
At dinner tonight, I learned that Bucky had a glass eye (like my literary hero Jim Harrison), and that he had lots of women in his life, some, maybe, even his wives. In one picture of Bucky, where he looks old and frail, he sits in a chair surrounded by four little boys. There's a bottle of Early Times Bourbon at his elbow. I wonder if those are his grandsons. I wonder where they are now.
Can you tell I'm just a little bit fascinated by this bad boy? Ah, life, Ah, time.
I could tell you lots of stories the other residents have told me about things that go bump in the night, but let me save them for another time.
I had a good day today. I'm making progress. I miss the boys and I miss the dogs and I miss TV (but not that much, TV, that is).
If you are reading this, thank you. It's a little lonely out here sometimes. And Buck, if you're out there, I'm sorry if I upset you by nosing around in your cabin. I just couldn't help myself.