It's a half-mile walk from the family cabin along the town road to the main logging road, which we just called 'The Main Road,' then another half-mile to 'Tommy's Shack.' If Tommy was home there was sure to be coffee on the wood-burning barrel stove in a giant pot that literally held gallons. If he wasn't home you could help yourself to an icy drink of the best water you ever tasted from the spring house in back. Years ago, someone dug out the spring, made a wooden box about two-feet deep and three-feet square, and put it in the hole. The sand bubbled up where the water entered the box. A copper mug that held a lot of water hung from a nail, and an even bigger tin dipper hung on another nail if you wanted to fill a container.
The Main Road travels north-by-northeast as you walk past Tommy's. Keep going a short distance and it veers a little left to travel straight north a short ways before it forks. The left fork goes roughly northwest, and the right fork goes north-by-northeast. At this junction is a wide clearing known as "The Meadow." The Meadow is part of another landmark called "The Triangle."
I think we all had places we never told our parents about. Places we might have gone, or wanted to go to, but never mentioned because we knew, without even thinking about it, that our parents would just automatically overrule any idea of going there. The answer, if one dared to ask about going, could only be no.
By not asking, and not telling, you could always find a way to justify going to those places if you were found out. "We went to the park, and it was close by." or "You never said I couldn't go there." and even "Didn't you go there when you were kid?"
Saturdays usually meant a trip to the dog park. We'd load the dogs up into the back of the pickup and make the twenty-minute drive to a large preserve where training dogs was allowed. Few people used it for formally training their best friends, but everyone used it for exercising, socializing and informally teaching their dogs. As long as you kept your dogs under control, no one complained. It was a good place and it was not unusual to find twenty to thirty people with as many as sixty or seventy dogs on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
The parking lot adjoined a large, grassy area that was about five acres in size. This was surrounded by natural prairie, bogs, forests and marshes that totaled more than 1300 acres. Several streams criss-crossed the preserve and there were miles of trails to walk on.
Father's Day, June 17, 2012
I was about six-years old. Dad wanted to go fishing in Canada and it would be my second trip there, although I was just a babe in arms for the first time around. Dad loaded the family into the car, packed it full of clothes, fishing gear, a tent and an old outboard motor.
He had reserved us a week at a resort on some lake with a name I can't remember. What I do remember is that it was kidney shaped, there were several rivers that fed the lake, and one river that emptied it. It would be a week I'd never forget and for a six-year-old boy, it left a pretty amazing impression on me.
This weeks adventure is dedicated to my Dad, and very appropriately, on Father's Day.
Willy joined the family in November at the ripe old age of ten weeks. A bit old for a puppy you planned to teach many, many things and especially old for a male. Advice is given to take a dog from the litter at exactly seven weeks. Forty-nine days. There are reasons for this and they seem to make sense, but I'm not sure I agree with them.
First of all, and both Willy and JD were living proof of this, dogs are individuals just like people. Each has their own specific personality. What applies to one person, does not necessarily apply to another. And so it is with dogs.
It was a long walk, complicated by the icy road and we kept slipping, sometimes sliding back five or ten feet. But we were persistent and eventually we reached our goal―the top of the hill.
"Fun hike," I commented.
"Are we going?" my youngest brother Chris asked. Probably because I had expressed doubts as to the sanity of the venture.
Honestly, I had reservations. But we had come with six or seven of my friends, including my girlfriend, and I really didn't want it to look like I was chickening out, and especially not in front of my little brother. I looked down the hill, maybe a mile, maybe even a little more. I could see them down there, standing around the van and some of them looking up the hill at us.