Once upon a time, in the years of 1970-1972 there was a family of 8. The mother’s parents had built a simple log cabin on a piece of wooded land next to a lake. Her parents worked very hard to make this little mountain retreat a warm and welcoming place. They shared it with many of their friends and family for weekend enjoyments throughout the three warmest seasons. The family of eight often traveled the two hours from their home to this little family place. Sometimes they came when it was winter and had to re-open and start up things to make the visit warm and comfortable.
You see, when the place was closed down for the winter, the water was turned off by pulling up the well head that was in the side yard. Anti-freeze was put in the toilet bowl and tank. The tin shower stall, with the concrete marbleized floor, had a drain that was also a recipient of the stuff, as was the bathroom sink and kitchen sink. The hot water heater had a drain hose which was opened and the water drained into the carport area. The refrigerator was emptied and door left open. The electric power switch was turned off.
When the family of eight started out to have a weekend there in the cold season, the kids brought their own pillows and blankets and wrapped themselves in the back section of the old station wagon for the travel. The mother brought foodstuffs that were easy to prepare for the family weekend getaway. There were a few bags of extra clothing and boots and outdoor gear packed into the car. Upon arrival, one of the first things was to get a supply of water from the natural spring down the bank at the lake edge. The older kids took a sled and pails to the spring and brought water up and across the snowy dirt road and into the kitchen area. A very large bucket was put beside the toilet for flushing. Some went into the teakettle to start off the arrival procedures with cups of hot chocolate while the father started a fire in the yellow brick fireplace. A stack of wood logs was piled high by the grandfather at its side prior to the visit. A bundle of kindling, tied with bailing twine was there to put on top of the wood when it was placed on the andirons to start the fire. The handy long matches were kept in a special container on the mantle. The grandfather had gathered the kindling from his home two hours away, throughout the summer months, and brought to be used to ignite the fires. He usually had 4 or 5 bundles each time they came north. Kindling was important!
As night approached, the many games of Uncle Wiggly, Parcheesi, Checkers, Scrabble, Dominos, puzzles and others were put away and suppers of soups and sandwiches were eaten. Hands, faces and teeth were washed in cold water. The father made sure to drink a lot of it before retiring so he had to get up in the night to pee and feed the fire and keep it going. The children usually climbed the pile of wood to reach the area above the bathroom where there were camp cots set up on the floor there. It was the only room with a ceiling as the other two bedrooms had no ceilings except the rafters of the roof far above.
During the day, wet and frozen clothing was slung over the living and dining room rafters to dry after ice fishing, sledding and ice skating activities came to an end. Sleep, eat, play - that was the routine. What fun memories. Then all had to be undone and the trip back was the end until the next time. The family moved into another home they had built in 1972 just for them across the lake on the hill where they could see the grandparent’s cabin on the other side.