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Although we live in a cynical age, I think it’s still okay to be shamelessly sentimental about some things. I’m that way about the annual ritual of opening summer cabins.
As I sit on my porch these days I can see the heavily laden out-of-state cars roll along our road, full of summer expectations. As I listen to the sounds of shutters being taken down, the chopping of wood and the squeals of delight from young throats, I can recall the more than 20 summers when we arrived and went through our cabin opening rituals.
Our cabin, perched on a rock, looked like nothing more than the Ark itself, though our Ark was firmly bolted to the rock out of respect for the winter winds.
As likely as not, the keys to the Ark had been misplaced over the winter. My brother, until he grew too big and then I, gained entrance through the wood box, next to our little cast iron kitchen stove, whose name, “Junior” was written across the oven door. Then it was only four steps to the front door, which opened wide for the first time in ten months.
The mattresses were piled on top of a table to protect them from the mice, and had to be put into place before the car could be unpacked. The floor had to be swept, windows washed and mouse traps emptied of the withered little bodies.
Closets disgorged their stored treasures: bits of rock, familiar knick-knacks to be placed on shelves exactly as they had been for numberless previous summers.
At some point, we boys came upon the BB gun and the fishing poles, and we snuck out for a quick trip to the stream, carrying along the shovel from the tool shed, which we installed for the summer in our worm digging spot.
On the way back up the hill, we stopped for a view of the property from the top of a group of rocks called the Study Rocks, because they were in front of the small cabin my grandfather used when writing one of his many books.
From the top of the rocks, we could see for several hundred yards in all directions, and we could observe any changes since the previous summer, such as fallen trees. It always looked reassuringly the same.
Then we were off to our tree house, which was at first just a bench on the branch of a ponderosa pine, reachable only by a ratty and unsafe piece of rope.
Sitting on my porch these days, I hear the sounds of happy children arriving at their summer cabins, and I can almost believe those other two boys of summers long gone are still playing, in the summer sun.
© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner
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