Friday, August 8, 2014

Part 31




"You've told me a little bit about Singing Waters but I want you to see it in your mind's eye and really describe it for me this time."

"Seriously?" I asked him sense it sounded kind of stupid the way he said it.

"Yeah.  See it and think about the place in relation to water, food, and shelter."

I sighed.  And felt kinda dumb but decided to try it his way.  "OK ... the place isn't really big ... I mean the national forest is big of course but the campground is only like about forty acres from the entrance gate to the lake.  The only fence is up near the gravel road where you come in at; after that it is all open and stuff but there are boundary markers to tell you when you've left the campground and walked into the USFS land.  Dad's been - had been - going there since he was a boy and the cabins have been in the same family all that time.  It is some kind of leftover something or other from pioneer days back before there was such a thing as a national forest.  Actually, it used to be a logging camp in the beginning, then it was a some kind of hunting club thing, and then the owners started getting families in back around the early 1900s so they converted it to a kind of tourist place.  There were more cabins when Dad was a kid but a fire that happened right before Mom and Dad got married burned down half of them.  The family took the insurance money and refurbished the remaining cabins, built a nice well house, built chamber toilets onto each cabin, and added a central dining hall where they would have cook outs and stuff a couple of times a week and where you could get the kind of junk food campers sometimes buy ... that freeze dried stuff that tastes like used matches spiced with soy sauce.  Last time we were up there they were in the middle of adding outdoor showers to the cabins too but I don't know if they ever finished them.  They'd built solar cisterns - some 'green energy' project a grandson was doing his doctoral thesis on.  Dad said Benji - the grandson of Mr. Svenson - was a hippie wannabe and didn't like me going near him because he said his friends felt a little off to his spidey senses."

Jace had a look on his face like I'd given him a whole lot more information that he wanted or needed.  I guess I do kinda talk alot once I get going.  He was a good sport though and didn't say anything except to ask, "How close are the cabins to the woods?  To the lake?"

Trying to ease back a little on the carbon dioxide I was expelling I told him, "Closer to the woods than the lake though you can see the dock from every cabin's porch."

"Animals?"

"What?  You mean like pets?  No ... no pets allowed.  Forest animals.  Yeah.  Kinda, I guess.  It depended on how many cabins were rented out and how many people were hanging out on the lake and if everyone remembered to pick up their trash the right way."

He got it in one.  "You mean bears?"

I nodded.  "Yeah.  Not so much when we were there in the summer but the owners said they could be a problem later in the season.  They close the cabins down by the end of October."

He got a concerned look on his face.  "Describe the cabins."

"Why?"

"Because I need to know if these cabins are even set up for winter."

"Oh.  Gotcha," I said understanding what he meant.  " A lot of the cabins around the lake are just frame and stuff but the cabins at Singing Waters are the real deal.  They are made of real whole logs, not just split wood frame.  They used to rent them out for ice fishing and cross country skiing when I was little but they stopped that the year I started middle school.  The owners said they just didn't want to bother hiring someone to stay up there year round when it was easier and cheaper to hire college kids to do it for the summer alone.  After Labor Day it was only Mr. Svenson and his wife that stayed up there and he said they were thinking about shortening the season even more because of Mr. Svenson's arthritis."

"Well that's a relief ... about the cabin walls anyway.  Can you remember what kind of roofs they have?"

"Sure.  Insulated metal roofs.  The owners were real big on fire prevention and stuff.  Each cabin had fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide alarms because of the wood stoves.  Every night program they put on there were presentations about fire safety.  Once a week they would have a real forestry ranger come and do a Smokey the Bear kind of thing for the little kids.  In fact, if you were a kid and learned all the rules and some other nature stuff while you were there you got a little something from the gift shop as a prize.  Usually it was a mini compass, magnifying glass, or some other thing with the camp logo on it - Mom called it free advertising and was always telling me that if she found it just lying around she would throw it away as junk.  I have a whole box of those little things."

Looking surprised he said, "Have?  You don't mean that's what is in that old raggedy bag you wouldn't let me look in?"

I shrugged.  "None your bees wax what is in that bag."  A girl has to have some secrets.  I also keep this notebook in that old raggedy bag and he doesn't need to know that either.  He doesn't need to know about my personal stash of girl stuff for that matter.

"OK.  Whatever," he said rolling his eyes.  What about the kitchen?"

"Well, there isn't a kitchen."  Before he could say something snotty I told him, "You can sorta kinda cook on the Franklin wood stove - my folks heated their coffee up that way or Mom would boil water for oatmeal - but the main cooking was done outside in the fire ring or on the grill thingie.  And Mom used to bake biscuits in a reflector oven that caught the heat from the Franklin."

Looking skeptical he said, "We'll need to think about that one and see how it goes.  So what about windows?"

"Uh ... well there are windows but they aren't glass.  Dad said they were made of Leann or something like that."

He thought for a second before snorted at what he probably thought was my stupidity.  "Lexan, it's a kind of plastic."

"Yeah, that's it.  The window is sandwiched between two sets of shutters."

"Huh?"

Remembering how Toddie had liked to scare me by dropping the inside shutter real fast and then catching it at the last second before it squashed me I shook my head.  "There is an inside shutter that is hinged at the top of the window opening.  You pull this chain and the shutter opens toward the ceiling and then you put the chain on the hook on the wall to keep it open.  Then comes the window and you can open it by lowering the top part into the bottom part; it lets the heat out that is rising ... Mom called them a transom window and said it creates a good cross breeze.  Next is the screen ... real ones, not those flimsy plastic things that tear if you swat a fly on it.  And on the outside are regular looking shutters that open and close like bifold doors.  And before you ask, the door to the outside is really heavy and everything too and has a screen doors on the outside.  The door opens onto a porch that is screened in to keep the mosquitos and flies out - sometimes they can get really bad right as the sun is going down - and that's about it."

"What about the inside?  How many bedrooms?"

"There isn't a real bedroom with a door and all ... there's like this partition that gives it a little privacy but still lets the heat from the wood stove in.  There is a clothes line wire that you can hang a curtain on if you want to ... Mom did that ... but Toddie and I slept on bunk beds in the opposit corner of the main room.  Some of the cabins are bigger but we always reserved the same one each year.  It was like Dad's tradition.  Mom put up with it because it made Dad happy.  Toddie didn't come with us the last time we went because Dad made him get a job and he 'accidentally' asked for the wrong week off.  Yeah right.  Wish he was here so I could kick him.  He really hurt Dad's feelings that time."

After a moment he asked, "Are you set on having the same cabin or would you be interested in one of the bigger cabins?"

I shrugged.  "I hadn't really thought about it.  I guess it depends on if there is anyone else there ahead of me.  And if there's not ..."  I shrugged again.  I really hadn't given it any thought but I suppose I had better.

"I guess that can wait til you get there."

"'Til I get there?"

He sighed.  "Figure of speech Dee Dee.  Now let's get some sleep.  You sleep in the back and I'll sleep in the cab.  I'd prefer to sleep out here but there's no security and ..."  He slapped his neck.  "And the bugs are getting pretty bad."

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