It is another summer week-end. This morning, after eating our fried eggs and potatoes, my mother said we should ride back to Greenwood and check on the house. I can’t imagine why we would want to do that, since my older brothers are there and Keno, our husky, guards the front door as if it were Fort Knox. But I am ten years old and not about to argue and Curt secretly wants to get more comic books to read.
The house is fine and my brothers are still snoring in bed. I run across the field to see my grandmother and find her churning butter. She has the wooden mold set out with its little maple leaf design and she turns the handle for what seems like forever. Grammy is so tiny, I wonder where she finds the strength. At last the butter is ready and she offers me a glass of buttermilk. I have never had any before and oh, how good it tastes on this hot day.
Dad is impatient, so it isn’t long before we come back to camp. Curt and I walk the shoreline path and soon my stomach is talking to me. It is not a good feeling but I do not want to upset Curt, so we hop over the tree roots and jump across puddles in the path and peek through the bushes to see how far my father has rowed down the pond. Soon the little camp comes in sight and my stomach says it can not stay where it is any more. I run behind the camp and you can imagine what happens! Soon my mother jumps from the boat, hauling it up on shore and tying it down for my Dad to draw in the oars and climb out.
Mothers always know when something is wrong and won’t stop prying until you confess. In this case, Curt finally tells her I am sick and she leaps into the air like a bullfrog out of the bog. It was that buttermilk; how many times have I told you that is nasty. I thought you knew better than to drink that stuff. Well, I can tell you, I do not answer back. I keep wondering how a person can say no to someone as sweet as my Gram when she offers you something to drink on a hot day and still please your mother. She finally calms down after my father reminds her we are having company this afternoon.
The company has arrived. I like the man and woman, but wish they would not bring their dog. He is one of those long , drawn out hot dog kind and what kind of people have those things for a pet? I keep looking at him and thinking of our husky, Keno, and bet Keno could take one bite and have a meal out of him. He has been here before and sometimes he draws his mouth back and hisses through his teeth. Curt put his hand down to pat him once and the little hot dog nipped his hand. I wouldn’t have one of those on a bet…never know if they will lick your hand or bite all your fingers off for lunch.
We are all out on the porch and the man is telling my father all about the canoe he paddled down the pond. My father says how he wouldn’t mind having one of those and my mother snorts that the row boat is enough trouble now that he has a motor on the back he uses some times. The man tells Dad he ought to try it out and I can see a glint in my Dad’s eyes which usually means something is going to happen. I think my mother sees it as well because she tells my father that it is harder than it looks to keep upright in a canoe.
I guess Dad has been reading about canoes and rivers or rapids because he is heading for the pond. I can’t hear, but the man is bending over and I guess telling Dad how to use the paddle. The man gives the canoe a little push and Dad lets out a whoop and starts to paddle. He paddles a few feet and we are all impressed. The man hollers that he better turn around and come back. Dad gives a deep paddle and the canoe starts to turn and I can see the look of victory on his face. I am not sure what happens next but Dad lets out a different kind of whoop , the canoe overturns and all I can see is my Dad’s head and one hand with a paddle. The man hollers again but I can’t hear him because my mother is really sputtering to the man’s wife and the hot dog is jumping and barking with a yipping sound. Dad somehow grabs the canoe and swims the few feet to shore dragging it behind. The man is laughing now and they right the canoe. My father is dripping wet, my mother is beside herself in frustration from having a kid sick from drinking buttermilk and a husband who thinks he is a frontiersman. Curt and I stay away from the dog and keep very quiet. Curt pokes me and points at Dad and we both snicker to see that he still is wearing his hat. We won’t point that out to Ma, though.