Remember Lonesome Pine?
She was a giant Eastern White
that towered above the Cedar,
Jack Pine, Spruce and Hemlock,
and could be seen for miles.
Not too long after you passed that,
you turned off the two-lane
onto a narrow, twisting, rutted path
that was overgrown and, in places, blocked by deadfall.
Branches whipped the sides of the station wagon
as it crept along. The path sloped very sharply
as it descended towards the lake.
Eventually you came to a rustic cabin
with no electricity or running water.
Propane fueled a cook stove and powered a generator
that ran a water pump and icebox.
At night you lit kerosene lamps
and the Coleman lantern that hissed
and bathed everything in harsh white light.
The kids slept upstairs in the loft
while the adults stayed up half the night
playing cards, telling raucous stories and drinking beer.
Bears and giant spiders came to life
in the long shadows cast by flashlights
on a trip to the outhouse after dark.
Half way around the lake there was another place
known as the Preacher’s Cabin.
A green wooden rowboat tied to a rotting dock
lay submerged to the gunnels.
Brass oarlocks stuck up out of the water.
You went hunting for snapping turtles
amidst the lily pads in Beaver Bay
and fished for Perch and Blue Gills out on the lake.
Jack taught you to shoot the gun,
a double barrel 12-gauge shotgun
with a deafening blast and a recoil
that could have knocked you on your ass.
You shot at porcupines,
blew up coffee cans with M80’s
and played Capture the Flag and Kick the Can
until it was too dark to see.
It was a 20-mile drive to Kenton for supplies.
You headed back down the two lane,
flanked by deep forests of tall timber,
past scrubby outcroppings of rock, red with copper ore.
The general store was also the post office and gas station.
You read comic books, ate candy bars and drank Orange Crush.
Dad and Jack drank beer.
On the way back home, you stopped at the railroad switchyard.
A long train of freight cars loaded with freshly cut timber
sat on the tracks.
A red tailed hawk soared overhead.
Crickets sang in the dry grass of high summer.
You climbed up the ladder of a freight car to play on the logs,
jumped from car to car, all the way to the end
and made your way back again.
When you got down,
Dad and Jack coaxed a wood tick out of your skin
with a lit cigarette.
Then you went right back up to play some more.
Some nights everyone went to the dump to watch the bears.
On a walk through the woods, you stumbled on a spotted fawn
newborn, still wet with the dew of afterbirth.
When it was too hot to be up in the loft,
you fell asleep on the screened porch
to the unearthly calls of loons out on the water.
October 28, 2011 at 10:38 am
You always make it so real it is like I am there.
October 28, 2011 at 12:34 pm
Thanks Randall! I’ve been kind of working and reworking these last 2 pieces for quite a while now. Although they may fit more in the realm of memoir. In a way, your recent piece on Vietnam helped me to move on with these – to condense and re order each one, and just make short descriptive statements and release them so I can move on.
October 28, 2011 at 2:15 pm
Thanks for the lovely visit into your past.
October 29, 2011 at 11:16 am
Thanks so much for reading and commenting. As I was just telling Terry, I ran into someone from the Upper Peninsula at a conference who said that the entire area has been developed and is full of summer homes – the Echo Lake of my childhood is no more…