My in-laws owned a weekend home in Highland County, Virginia. My mother-in-law was an avid birder. The property is a birding paradise.
One morning my husband and I were drinking coffee on the porch. Hundreds of hummingbirds hovered around the multiple feeders, the hum sounded like motorized wildlife.
A line of cars pulls into the driveway, the sound of tires on gravel drowns out the hummingbirds.
Twenty or thirty birders exit the cars, carrying binoculars and tripods. We wave hello. The birders march up the mountain. They gather around in silence. About an hour later they march back down. A lady says, “I came all the way from California. Now I can check golden-winged warbler off my list.”
One time my mother in-law, Margaret, invited her Audubon buddies to the house. Someone says, “Did you see the pileated woodpecker?” Someone else yells, “Do you see that rattlesnake?”
Margaret runs over and says, “All I see is that log right there.”
“That’s the snake.”
From there on out I stopped referring to Highland County as its nickname Little Switzerland. I called it BIG SNAKELAND.”
My mother in-law passed away a few years ago. She traveled the globe but the house in Highland County was her favorite place on the planet. She requested we spread her ashes in the flower beds.
My father in-law remodeled the house to rent on Airbnb. On the one year anniversary of Margaret’s death her friends and family gathered at the house for a memorial and the spreading of ashes.
My husband says, “Dad has been carrying Mom’s ashes in a ziplock baggy in his trunk for a year. What the hell?”
Each guest takes the giant ziplock bag and dumps a bit into the flower garden. I wonder if anyone is thinking what I’m thinking. “This is about as classy as the time my neighbor gave a wrapped up box of green stamps at the neighbor’s bridal shower.”
My father in-law is the last to leave the house. Two weeks later a couple rents the house on Airbnb. My husband reads their review. “Beautiful house and property but there was a ziplock baggy on the kitchen counter labeled Margaret’s Ashes.”
How does one respond to that review? “Sorry about the ashes on the counter.”
You don’t respond. It’s an Airbnb fail.