Tall Timber Tales|
An Exhausting Winter’s Tale
December 30, 2005
It appeared to me that the camp experience often seemed more important to dad than to the rest of us. It was a high point of the year for him, which utilized all his skills, providing him with challenge and great pleasure.
We sometimes made supply-stocking trips before the summer. These were not taken lightly because the journey — from Newtonville, Massachusetts (near Boston) to upstate New York — ran five hours. One winter we made a trip that challenged not only dad, but each family member’s strength and endurance.
Sylvia, my mom, looked this up in her diary and told me a few details, including the fact that this particular trip began on Saturday, February 18, 1961.
I’m 15, and Allen, as usual, is a year younger. Norm is just three. We have been packed into the car and are leaving the comfort of our home. Our task is to bring supplies to the Hillocks bungalow colony.
Making a little trip this time of year theoretically makes the trip for the whole summer an easier one. Mom has reservations about the weather — it is too blustery — however, she will not let dad go by himself.
Dad had bought an old, blue, wooden open trailer to hitch to the car. We’d piled camp goods and household items in it and covered it with a tarp. Because of the snow and ice, the drive is treacherous. With little warning, the car and trailer skid about, sometimes in different directions.
We reminisce about other journeys we have made; for picnics, to see fall colors or historical landmarks. One ride’s highlight was the time mom was pouring a cup of milk when the car hit a bump. Instead of saying “oops,” she came out with the memorable onomatopoeia, “splook.”
We arrive after six hours, worn out from the ride and anxiety. However, the work has just begun.
Because of the snow — which now drifts three feet high — we can’t drive near our cabin. So we lug boxes and boxes of supplies several hundred feet up the hill. After a couple of hours, my arms and legs are hurting. We are not happy campers.
At last, all crates are stowed. The light is now gone from the sky, and we need a place to rest for the night. And these cabins have no electricity or heat this time of year. In fact, the summer tourist town of Mahopac has nothing open at all. So we hit the road to find a restaurant and a motel.
The snowfall gives way to very thick fog, and the night drive is suddenly more dangerous.
We find a restaurant — Nino’s, on Route 6 in Connecticut — and are happy just to find a place with lights and heat. Meals are ordered.
A huge amount of food is placed before each of us. In our household, food is understood to be an expensive item, and it was never left uneaten. Everyone is always a member of the “clean plate club.”
After a few bites … I just sit and stare, dopey-eyed at the full platters. No one else has eaten much either. I am way too tired to eat. And far too tired to weep for the muscle soreness. I am glad that the ordeal is over and there is a nearby motel room with a big, warm, comfy bed.
As my head sinks into the pillow, I realize we had been in real danger from the elements, as well as from the emotional and physical drain. I also know that dad pulled us through with pure physical strength, and a stubborn determination to get the job done and get us home safely.
I do not finish this last thought because, by the time my head stops sinking into the pillow, I am in the very deepest sleep.
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