Friday, October 22, 2004

Dawn in The Bunkhouse

Take out three lipsticks – a coral, a pale beigy white, a blueberry plum combo – and streak them across a horizon – and that’s what I see outside my window here in a dwelling called the bunkhouse as the sun is rising here at 6:30am.

I am in the woods, 12 miles from town, very Robert Frost, also frosty on this October morning.

I dropped an email to our gracious host about the best available housing choices for this conference and he was nice enough to invite me to stay his bunkhouse, a much more houselike affair than the rustic cabin he tried to scare me off with.

He warned that I’d have to be bunking in with 7 MIT Knight Fellows, which once I checked the website (try this), I found out were not only men fellows, but a bunch of women fellows too. They are all journalist who focus on high-tech or science and end up being really interesting, really fun and just terrific to get to know.

And “get to know” turned out to be rather a bold encounter, as I came in earlyish on Wednesday night and they came late when I was already sleeping in a private room (they got the two big bunk rooms – one for men, one for women), so the way we all met was in the large coed bathroom on Thursday morning rushing to wash up and get ready for the ride over to the conference. Boxer shorts and polite hellos, “can I borrow some toothpaste” from one guy and “do you have a hairdryer, “ I asked of another girl.

The caretaker of the bunkhouse, Chris Allen, has been incredibly kind and welcoming, giving me rides (I didn’t bring my car) from town in his pickup truck out here to the woods. He’s a great Maine local guy who knows friends of mine who live up here and run a boatyard – small world department. He also shares my political views, so we’ve had a lot of fun in our 20-minute rides back and forth from and to town, jawing about Bush and Kerry. I lived on a farm one summer and tended chickens and then had to ring their necks, as well as do other farmy things, so he and I had a lot to talk about. No Paris Hilton me – I know my way around the woods. He told me a great story about how the cows had committed petty larceny of a water pipe and killed the water pressure in the main house and bunkhouse a while back and it took him a lot of noodling it around to figure out they were the unlikely culprits and get the think fixed.

There’s three floors in this large house, with a kitchen on the main floor. Chris stocked it with coffee, tea, honey, jam, crumpets, English muffins and butter. It’s heaven to me and beats staying in a plain old hotel or bed & breakfast any day.

Also given the chance to make friends with 7 journalists, and as we did last night, sit around in the shared common living room talking about the conference, about writing and about blogging, nothing beats that.