My trailer looked very small and frail beside my son’s big pole barn where it had spent the winter. Before I left for New York City last October, I had cleaned its rubber roof and waxed its fiberglass skin; I’d scrubbed its innards, emptied its tanks, blown out its pipes, and filled them with antifreeze. (Actually, my brother did the winterizing. What do I know about air compressors?)
I’d covered it with a mammoth tarp that I didn’t tie down properly, so it flapped around all winter requiring regular readjustment by my son. (Thanks, Joe.)
Still, I was nervous about taking up residence again.
First, a lot of stuff can go wrong in the course of a winter. Had it sprung a leak? Did mice move in like the Clampetts with all their untidy habits? Would its delicate little systems—furnace, water pump, battery, refrigerator, water heater—still work?
But most of all, would I still like living in a 14-ft (4.25 meter) trailer?
After a winter with a regular kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom, and a bed that wasn’t a foam-covered pad on a slab of particle board, would I want to return to the kind of transient life that causes dead silence and pained looks when I tell people where I’m from (nowhere) and what I’m doing (living in a trailer). I don’t know if people think I’m unstable or if they just can’t relate to this sort of nonsense.
So, with the tiniest quiver of trepidation I opened the door and stepped inside the little space that had sheltered me over so many miles and in so many places and which was once so cozily familiar to me.
It smelled good.
It looked clean.
No roof leaks. The little red light on the battery indicated that it was still connected to the trickle charger that my brother had given me. (What do I know about trickle chargers?) A mouse had indeed moved into a storage compartment (and that smelled to high heaven.), but had thoughtfully moved out leaving no permanent damage.
I fired up the furnace—it caught on the first try. Ditto for the water heater. (I don’t use either of these very much, but I like knowing that they work.) The battery was charged. Refrigerator worked. The water pump merrily gushed the foaming pink antifreeze from its pipes. I merrily flushed out the fresh water tank and filled that baby with clean water.
I am road-worthy and ready to go.
You can’t imagine how good that feels.
* * *
For the next couple of weeks, I hung out in my son’s backyard in rural Michigan. After relatively sunny New York, I’d forgotten how damp the state is. Salt congeals in the shaker, and envelopes seal themselves. In the morning, fog rises from the barley field where sandhill cranes are hatching babies. A family of vultures hangs out down the road soaring overhead on carrion forays. The wild turkeys are working on this year’s family. One of my daughter-in-law’s chickens disappeared and turned up in the barn rafters, sitting on two eggs. Distress to excitement in the blink of an eye.
Then I picked up my little granddaughter after school.