We are again at our Indian Pond camp this summer, but it is different than in past years. One cold February night, word spread from one neighbor to the other in Greenwood Center that the mill was on fire. We rushed into the yard, coats and hats pulled tight and we could see the red in the sky four miles away. Slowly, we went back into the house and I saw my mother and father’s faces as they sat across the table from one another, silently asking, “what now?” As in most of the households, the mill was our lifeline to paying bills. Suddenly it was gone..charred timbers which my brothers and I saw when we went to school the next morning. Hoses were still stretched out on Main street across from the school and the acrid smell of wet burnt timbers permeated our three room school house.
My mother searched for work and finally found one at another factory. My father knew only logging and working in the woods. The minute the ground was bare enough, he announced one evening over the supper table that he was going to camp and would log some timber for another mill owner. As soon as school was out, we would join him. The house seemed very strange without my father and we couldn’t wait for the last school bell to ring.
But now we are here in the peace and quiet Dad wants every summer. There is no one at the other camp on the pond and evenings are very quiet as we gather on the porch after supper.
This morning my mother left early, walking up the shoreline path to the car and to work again in the factory. My two older brothers, Tink and Rex are with us for a short time to help in the woods, and because there is no one left in Greenwood, our husky is with us. I am afraid because there are hedgehogs everywhere and she never learns to stay away.
We have sandwiches for noon in a sack and a jug of orange drink for Curt and me and water for my Dad and older brothers. Dad leads us and we all fall in line, crossing the old dam, with the dog bringing up the rear. I keep Curt in front of me to make sure he doesn’t lag behind. At last we come to where Dad is cutting the timber. As soon as he and my older brothers have them on the ground, my job is stripping the bark. I love doing this and see how long a strip of bark I can get before it breaks. The sun shines on the wet wood and gives off a wonderful smell. The husky lays in the shade and sometimes Curt helps me strip the trees.
The sun is overhead and Dad announces it is time for a break, so we all find a log or a rock to sit. The sandwiches are peanut butter and jelly and how good the orange drink tastes after working all morning. The dog goes from one to the other, gathering up a pinch of sandwich here and there. Soon we are all back on the job.
Dad announces we have to start the walk back home, if we are to get there so he can row the boat up the pond to get Ma when she drives home from work. The walk back to camp seems much longer than it was this morning, but soon the old dam is there and the camp waiting.
In a few minutes, the fire is going in the little camp stove and I start peeling potatoes. We hear the distance sound of a car horn which means Dad is to go get Ma. By the time she gets to camp, the little table will be set with the mis-matched dishes, the frying pan out and waiting for her to work her magic on the perch caught last night.
It is a different summer at the little camp. But as Dad said today as we worked in the woods, you do what you have to do to get by.
Soon my older brothers will be settled in on the porch, Curt and I on our mattresses and we’ll go to sleep by the night sounds.