Sunday, September 6, 2009

mt. riga: and this should be about it

so monday came and i rose at a leisurely pace in the storey camp, shivered extensively until i made up the fire, ate some breakfast, showered, and wandered down to the lake to sit on the dock and watch the current of the water twist back and forth with the breeze.

aunt olivia and uncle dick had left early on monday morning to pick up uncle dick's sister and her husband from the hartford airport, where apparently they had caught a redeye flight from oregon, and were tired and famished. we had a nice lunch, and then took a walk together down to virginia and ken's again to sit and talk with them and with chuck and elizabeth, who were planning on heading down off the mountain later that day, to return to their home in vermont.

great-uncle ken had some interesting stories about world war ii which i had never heard, namely involving the fact that he worked on the coast guard out on a sailboat to monitor invading german u-boats. did you know that there were u-boats off the east coast? i had no idea, but apparently that is the intelligence he had to relate several times back to the mainland, except they never attacked harbors because new york harbor is so shallow, that the damage would have been a wasted effort.

he also once owned a sailboat that had been jfk's. talking to him made me miss my grandpa, my mother's father, who was also in the coast guard during world war ii, and who loved sailing. it also made me wish i'd known my other grandpa, virginia's brother. great-aunt virginia kindly told me some things about my grandpa, that he was also something of an engineer, that he built real mini motor cars for my dad and for my cousin will when they were little. that he drank too much, but he loved children, and was so, so kind. i almost wish, sometimes, that i would see his ghost on the mountain, to know that he's still around.

then aunt olivia took us on a tour of the other camps nextdoor. there's the wells camp, which belongs to my grandfather's brother frank's children, and their children. and next to that, my aunt dinnie and uncle rick have the blaker camp, and next to them are great-uncle crosby wells's camp and outbuildings, and next to him is cousin conrad, who raised a big camp against some protest by my aunt dinnie, who said it was too close to the other camps (there are rules on the mountain of how closely you can build), but there it is. he also has a self-rigged 'hot tub' which is basically a water tank that he lights a fire under. and next to conrad is great-uncle tom's camp, what we call "the treehouse" because it's built so high up into the trees, but he doesn't come up much anymore because it's too strenuous for him. and then way down from him is cousin alice's camp, but we didn't walk that far.

so you see, despite the fact that we only spend roughly a month at best on the mountain, we still manage to be a family of inbred mountain people.

the next day, tuesday, was the day i was leaving. aunt olivia and i decided to take a walk, stopping in first to see viriginia and ken, who invited me to have lunch with them, and then we continued down the road toward the dam to see fran and pete miller (the same fran who jumped off the dam house at 70 years). only pete was there, but we chatted with him for awhile, walking down with him to the lake so he could show us the contraption he'd built to pull his dock up out of the water for the winter. he built it using lawn mower tires he'd had in his workshop for a good fifteen or twenty years and had never found a use for. we have some clever, creative engineer-like minds up on the mountain. i am not one of them.

other than the brief drama of me stepping on a green garter snake, and subsequently screaming and making an impressive leap of several feet across the grass, aunt olivia and i continued our walk unscathed, strolling down to sit on the platform of the dam house to watch the water, and then walking down the mountain road to look at the waterfall. i like those meandering, easy-paced walks. my aunt says that when she and uncle dick were first married, they had "nothing to do but take long walks" :). but really, there is a very tranquil pleasure in taking a walk, whether you have an envigorating conversation constantly, or whether you walk in easy silence.

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