It came as a total surprise last night when Dad butted his cigarette in his gold colored cowboy hat ashtray , tipped his cup to get the last drop of coffee and announced we should have one last week-end at camp. Ma protested that she did not have any extra food to take except a few potatoes and such. Dad said it did not matter because he would catch enough fish to keep us going for a day and a half. Ma replied he had better because she had to be home by Sunday noon to get their clothes ready for work on Monday and if we were going to spend all week-end at camp, when would she get the washing done? Dad didn’t answer but started to gather his fishing gear together, so Ma just sighed. I heard her mutter that she would be scrubbing clothes until midnight Sunday. She does have it hard, with nothing but a big tub and a scrub board and always the brown Fels-Naptha soap. Her hands are awful red by the time she gets through.
Here we are, this Saturday morning, and Ma has the few blankets and odds and ends tucked into a huge blanket held together by what she calls a “horse pin” and we will soon be on our way. Dad has been revving the engine for what seems like forever. Curt and I are excited to go one more time before school, but Rex and Roland are working in the woods this week-end.
We turn at Dan Cole’s farm and up over Rowe Hill we go and soon we are by the Colby Ring house and we can see Indian Pond from the road. Down the Hobbs road we go, past Miss Hobbs’ house and Curt swears he sees her peeking out her window.
At last, we have come to the end of the trail. Ma is tired so she has gone in the boat with Dad while Curt and I take to the trail. The little camp is setting there just waiting for us. Dad has brought the boat in while Ma guides him and ties it up. Soon we are inside and the smell of it being closed up kind of knocks us back on our heels.
As soon as we get everything stored, Dad is in his boat and off fishing for white perch. It is very quiet and the mornings are cool now. We know we only have this one day to explore, so Curt and I go down to the bog behind the camp to see if there are any cranberries yet. Dad told us it would be too early and he is right. Egbert isn’t on his/her bed anymore so we’re not sure what we want to do, but Curt tells me there is no way we are walking to Winnie Hanscom’s house. I guess he hasn’t forgotten the last time I took him and found her gone. He doesn’t forget easily.
There is a deck of cards in the camp, so we perch on the porch railing and play “Go Fish” for quite awhile until Ma asks us to carry some wood from the back so she can start the fire. She says Dad will be back with a mess of fish soon and by the time he has cleaned them, she wants the stove hot to cook them up nice and crisp. We each carry an arm full in and she says that is enough for tonight and the morning before we go home.
Dad was lucky and caught four big white perch and cleaned them on what he calls his “flat cleaning rock” down by the edge of the bog. Ma pops them in the hot greasy frying pan and they snap and crackle as they get nice and brown. Curt and I are getting a little hungry as we just had peanut butter and saltine crackers for our lunch. Potatoes are all boiled and we sit down to a delicious supper. I wonder why it tastes so much better here at camp?
After Ma and I finish cleaning the dishes, she notices that the pail of spring water is way down and she wants to make sure there is enough for breakfast and coffee, so she grabs the pail to set off for the spring. Dad offers, but she says no, she likes the walk and will take her time.
Dad, Curt and I sit on the porch and when there is a sound in the woods, Dad tells us what it is. We learn a lot from him, especially at night when we lay on our mattresses and there are really weird night sounds. One night we thought we heard a baby crying and Dad said, no, it was a bear. He has told us about owls and night hawks and other animals and we usually fall asleep while he is still telling us all these things.
Right now we all hear a thrashing on the other side of the bog. Oh, no! It is a bull moose and this time my father sits still. He hushes us and tells us that it is just hungry and has come down for some pickerel weeds and water. Curt and I sit very still, but the moose still comes wading across the bog. It enters the woods on the other side of the bog and goes in the direction Ma has gone for the water!! OH NO! We look at each other and wonder if Ma will meet it on her way back from the spring. Dad says there is nothing we can do about it now and if worse comes to worse, Ma can climb a tree. Well, I will take his word for it because I have never seen her climb any trees in my life, but on the other hand maybe she has never met a moose nose to nose. We hear it lumber off and then nothing.
Dad just sits and I wonder how he can be so calm when our mother might be in danger. I guess he knows her better than we do. Finally, he turns and tells us not to say anything to Ma when she returns unless she says something about the moose. We know we should obey Dad, so our lips are sealed.
About fifteen minutes later, Ma comes in sight carrying her bucket of spring water and climbs the stone steps to the porch and Dad relieves her of the weight. He asks her how her walk was and she said it was nice and peaceful and there are still some wildflowers in bloom at the spring. He tells her that is good and he is glad she had a nice walk.
I figure that is enough adventure for one day and glad it turned out the way it did. As Grammy always says, what people don’t know, won’t hurt them. I think she is right. Maybe I will tell her about this and swear her to secrecy when we go home tomorrow.
It has been a good day at camp. We look at the lights from the two farms on the mountain and head up to the mattresses. Our last night at the foot of Indian Pond. Curt and I will miss it.