It is just two rooms and an open attic. A porch attached to the camp makes it look a bit larger. There is one other camp on this tiny pond and seldom does anyone ever inhabit it. It is our get-away, our piece of paradise, my father’s refuge from all the summer residents who, he asserts, ruin the entire span of warm weather with their water skiing and high powered boats. When the last school bell rings, he summons the family to the kitchen and we know it is “time to go to Indian”.
The bedroll is ready, fastened with a gigantic safety pin, packbasket brimming with necessities. My father controls the situation barking out orders interspersed with sips of Maxwell Coffee…remember, kids, we are not running back here for anything you might forget! This is going to be your home til you go back to school in the fall.
My father rows the supplies down the pond while my mother walks the shoreline path with my younger brother and me. We top the knoll and there the little camp sits, its porch just waiting for the rocking chairs to be brought forth again.
The kitchen was designed with elves in mind; the stove a tiny wood burning unit and the sink as small and black in the corner. Living room walls come alive with cardboard cut-outs of fish caught at another time and the door bears messages from former fishermen.
My brother and I look at each other. We are home for the summer and go up the ladder stairs to make sure our mattresses are still on the floor and no family of mice has taken it for their own.
In the morning, our parents will wake early, climb into the boat and row to the head of the pond to ride to work at the factory. We will have the day to explore. The old dam is off limits, though I will hop expertly on rocks to find the best fishing hole. The spring with the sweet cold water is up the path a bit and we’ll make sure there is water for coffee when they come home that night.
There is a flat fish bed in front of the camp and for hours we will watch as the fish fans the bed, keeping it pure white amongst all the dark muddied water around it. We name it Egbert…male, female, it? It doesn’t matter. It is our fish and its name is Egbert.
There is another old rowboat and if I am careful, I can take Curt for a row, but only around the bog in front of the camp. I cannot, under any circumstances , take him into the main part of the pond. I am nine years old and he will be five in December and it is my job to make sure he is safe all day.
We wonder what will happen on the week end. Maybe we will have company and Dad will jump on the log and start it spinning again. Last year some big man came and his feet flew around the log and Dad was dumped in the bog. It was the first time he had ever done it and said he read about it in a book. My mother asked him if he read about someone jumping off a cliff if he would try that and he said he probably would.
About three-thirty, I start a fire in the little wood stove and fill the kettle with coffee water to heat. I peel a few potatoes. We will have fried fish tonight with them and after supper, Dad will troll around the pond to see if he can catch some white perch for our supper tomorrow night. My mother knows just how to cook the fish and they are crispy on the outside and pure white inside.
We hear the mill whistle and know it won’t be long before they are rowing down the pond to end another day. We’ll have supper and go to sleep listening to the night sounds at the little camp on Indian Pond.