Ill never forget the first time I saw it -- it was love at first sight.
It was July, and wed arrived on the top of Coolwater Ridge in the Nez-Perce Clearwater National Forest. Mountains rolled off in every direction, and purple fireweed danced in the cool mountain breeze. The burnt remains of alpine fir stood as black lines in a brushy green landscape.
And thats where I saw it -- the most glorious outhouse in all of Idaho.
Glorious in its roughness and ruin, I mean. Outhouses these days are so tidy and pleasant -- nothing like the squeek bangs I remember from my childhood, rickety wooden structures that some of us can credit with our ability to hold our breath for long periods of time while squatting.
But this one, it put all of those to shame. The walls and floor had holes in it, the toilet was held together with duct tape, and there wasnt even a door. I assumed no one used it anymore, but I was never brave (or stupid) enough to check. I just knew the bushes in the area provided a vastly preferable option.
And as people do when they see celebrities, I pulled out my camera to get a selfie with it. I have a whole series of outhouse selfies, taken with various friends and family wed bring to that location over the years. Its just too perfect not to appreciate. It inspires dismay and delight in equal measure.
Then two years ago, lightning started a wildfire in that area. Wed spent enough time up on that mountain to be worried for all we could lose. But I was especially worried about my outhouse. Trees and shrubs all grow back. But the glory of that outhouse could never be recreated. We watched the fire maps and assumed the worst.
A month or two later, after the fire was gone, we went up to survey the damage and grieve our loss. As we got closer to the top, the fires destruction was sobering. Blackened trunks and bare ground filled the spaces that had once been green. The whole area was torched.
I was giddy of course. My outhouse had been saved. Its perfection had been retained. It made no sense, it seemed absurd that a fire crew had undertaken the effort to wrap it, but I was glad they had.
Itll take time for the landscape around the outhouse to recover, but it will. Im just glad the most perfect part of it was preserved.