Old Coot’s Cabin
by Gay Pogue
Fiber with paper and acrylic paint
24 x 31 inches
In the quiet of Black Mountain, the Raven's call reached out to waken the Angel Snake Rachel from her beauty sleep. She was a long way from the echoing sounds of horns, screeching brakes, and roaring engines bouncing between the buildings of lower Manhattan where she had lived the first twenty-five years of her life. She was still not sure how she had wound up here and even less sure why she stayed; maybe because like Manhattan, up here the sun's rays rarely reached the ground and she had to fly a quarter mile to the top of the mountain to find a rock for a decent bask.
A distant train whistle signaled time to get up and get moving. Old Coot, her artist, had work to do. She had to encourage him. That was a muse's job. She had grown fond of him and had quickly seen through his grouchiness to understand it as his defense against being hurt again.
The only place his gentleness and kindness showed was in his work, in the faces of the figures he carved from wood harvested from the slopes of Black Mountain. So gentle was the old man that he harvested wood only from fallen trees or those clearly near death and beyond healing
With Old Coot, her job amounted to sitting with him, being present. He knew his craft and seemed driven to produce. Rachel's greatest challenge was to keep her tongue in her mouth. In her youth, she had trouble with that and so was often in conflict with her artists. Her suggestions and comments were seldom welcome. Out here on The Mountain, she felt no real need to comment.
Rachel might have thought that he did not like her except for the snacks he left on the ledge above his workbench. Several weeks ago she noticed that before placing the snacks on a china plate he cleaned off the ledge. A few days later, he added a crystal bowl of spring water. Then every so often he would add a rock or two, arranging them in an artful pattern.
Rachel herself was a painter. Her tail itched to get into some paint. She had no clear idea of what she wanted to paint, she just wanted to feel the creaminess and smear it around, watching the colors melt into new hues. She wanted that dreamy feeling of being at one with her medium. She wanted the rush of being surprised by what she had just created.
Finally, one day in early spring, she could stand it no longer and blurted out, "The next time you go to town, buy me some paint."
For a solid hour, he made no acknowledgement of her demand. Then miraculously asked, "What color?"
In for a penny, in for a pound. "Red, yellow, blue, white, and black." A week later, after a visit to his gallery in town, Old Coot returned after dark. She had not really expected him to remember the paint.
Mid-morning the next day, she went out onto the porch to survey the sky and the new green leaves budding out on the trees. It would be a nice day. As she turned to re-enter the workroom, she noticed that under the window against the wall were lined up five cans of paint, five one-gallon cans of paint.
#13 in the “Angel Snake Houses” series
Completed March 2012