The Amazon Trail: A good start to a proud summer by Lee Lynch

The Police Commissioner of the City of New York apologized on June 6, 2019 for the most publicized raid of a gay bar in the history of the world. Thank you, sir, but fifty years later?  And how many raids before that one? How many lgbtq careers ruined, bodies battered, families destroyed? How? Many? Suicides? Still, it was a great gesture and more cause for celebration. It was a good start to summer, to this season of pride.

Before the bulldykes, the gay men, the transgendered and queer, struck back at the blue-suited symbols of our oppression, could this lovely life of mine have been possible?

In our primarily straight community, people genuinely smile when they see us.  Just today, yet another resident told us we are the nicest neighbors they could have. Just today, a long-time resident came running to ask if we would help with our small Fourth of July parade. A man and woman waylaid us to show off renovations to their home. I asked where they’d found the excellent builders. Quietly, the husband said, “Church.”

Many of our neighbors attend conservative Christian churches. They know full well what we are. I get scared, sometimes, with the current rightward political trend, that they’ll turn on us. But for today, we’re living in harmony.

It was all going so well, as spring segued to summer, until panic set in. No, it wasn’t the right wing, it was the ceiling; a moisture stain, to be exact. I tried to make something of the shape—a sign, a tray-ceiling stigmata, but couldn’t come up with anything closer than Gertrude Stein in her cassock-like brown dress and monk’s tonsure (without the shaved pate). Was she making an appearance in honor of Pride?

No, the stain represented one thing only: a twenty-thousand-dollar roof replacement. This was no way to rejoice in the anniversary of Stonewall.

We’d expected two major expenses this summer. A trip to visit friends and tour Crater Lake National Park for my sweetheart’s birthday; a trip back east to see family and friends and attend The Golden Crown Literary Conference in Pittsburgh.

But now, the roof. We learned that thirty-year roofs actually last only twenty. Ours is eighteen. We learned that some roofing contractors will sell you whatever you’re scared enough to buy. We learned that steep pitches like ours raise not just the ceiling, but the steep price of a roof. We learned all sorts of things we didn’t want to know. Mostly, we learned that travel and roof replacement are not compatible.

Never mind, we have plenty to do all summer.

Our ground is too hard to dig, but last year, for kicks, my sweetheart sowed some sugar snap peas in a long planter. Much to our delight, they took off like Jack and the Beanstalk. Or peastalk. This year the peas went in late because I bought starts at a local pop-up nursery. Big dumb beginner mistake: they were snow peas. Not that I’ll turn up my nose at snow peas.

A couple of summers ago, a friend took me round to his garden (we all own approximately point zero plots of land) and showed me potatoes growing in bags. Container gardening has always intrigued me. After two years of research and cold feet, this summer I took the plunge. It’s not exactly gay pride, but green leaves are coming out of the soil in those grow bags.

My sweetheart came into possession of a cat tower at no cost a few years ago and took advantage of the roofing disaster looming over our heads to assemble it. She’s a handy-femme with infinite patience for reading instructions and redoing mistakes and I doubly love her for it. With modest pride she beckoned me out of my butch cave when she finished. The tower is incredible. A monolith. It must be the tallest cat tower ever made and it’s quite sturdy.

A good start to summer.jpg

Naturally, our seventeen-year-old arthritic cat turned her back and did a “meh” twitch with her tail. She’s correct; now that we can see the floor space this thing requires, it’s way big for our home. My sweetheart listed it on a local website and had it sold in an hour. Money toward the roof!

But only a drop in the bucket we’re going to need under the leak. It looked like we’d be tending the back forty feet and another forty projects this gayest of summers.

A retired builder friend came over to take a look at the roof. We’d already made an appointment with a roofer, but our friend insisted on seeing Gertrude Stein in cassock and tonsure first. After the viewing, he climbed a ladder and examined the roof over our heads. He poked around a bit and descended.

We’d lost a shingle. One shingle. It would cost all of thirty dollars to fix.

Sure, we’re fifty years and proud, and now we’re house proud too.

Copyright Lee Lynch 2019

June 2019


  1. What an entertaining read, Lee. Always love your humor. And the potatoes! They won’t disappoint. Just wait until you dig through the those bags of soil in late August and feel them all waiting to be unearthed and roasted. We used to buy quartered potatoes at the nursery (pricey). Now we just put a few of our own in the garage (purple, fingerling, whatever we have), let them grow eyes, then quarter and plant them. Simple as that.

    So the lessons here are (1) potatoes are fun and easy to grow, (2) never get scared into spending unnecessary money, and (3) never think you can please a cat.

    It was a pleasure dining with you and Elaine at the GCLS conference.

    Karen Williams

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  2. Thanks for this blog, Lee. Thank goodness for your ability to see stigmata in your ceiling’s water stain. Thank goodness for your sweetheart’s ability to construct and then quickly sell the cat tower. Thank goodness for your friend’s insisting to take a good look at your roof and his good willingness to replace a shingle. Thank goodness that you were able to travel to the GCLS conference and beyond. And thank goodness for snow peas!

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