My wife and I decided that Memorial Day weekend would be an opportune time to head north and open our camp on the St. Lawrence River. My son, Eric, and his kids, Tyler and Lydia, were able to join us again this year for the — more laborious than ceremonious — annual task. Our work party was formed.
The first two orders of business in the trip were deciding what to take and then getting it packed into the truck. And with the inclement weather being what it’s been this spring, I was concerned as to what to expect when we got there. There are always surprises.
Throughout the winter, I had occupied my time by building a few pieces of furniture for the place. A corner hutch and TV stand made from knotty-pine, I thought, would be just the nuts. That’s what the existing theme is now. (Décor is too fancy of a word to use for this place.)
Using the dimensions of the room, which I had meticulously measured last fall, I went about the business of “carpentrating” them specifically for their own place in the living room (“carpentrate” is a word I’ve concocted to use when I have to design and build something). I couldn’t wait to see the finished products in their respective spots.
Naturally, when I tried to load them onto the truck, they wouldn’t fit — not enough room for them and the other stuff that had to absolutely go. And so, my winter’s projects which have been cluttering up the garage for the past three months are still there … still cluttering up the garage. Chalk up surprise No. 1. And we hadn’t even left yet.
My son and grandchildren drove in a separate vehicle. They left about two hours ahead of us. Just as my wife and I were going out the door, I got a phone call from Eric.
“Did you guys leave yet?”
“No, but we’re in the process. Why? Where are you?”
“We aren’t very far. I had to turn around and go back and exchange vehicles with Laura.” (Laura, his wife, did not make the trip.)
“What happened?” I asked.
“I was on my way to the Thruway and suddenly the hood flew open and smashed into the windshield breaking it all to … hello, you still there? Dad?”
“Yeah, sorry, I dropped the phone. Holy crap, is everyone okay?”
Fortunately, they were all fine. Surprise No. 2 had struck. (Funny thing, though, I think my wife and I were actually more shaken up by that incident than they were.)
Surprise No. 3 was that there were no more surprises — so to speak. It was no surprise that the rainstorm taking place while I unloaded the truck got me so wet that the cell phone in my pocket didn’t work for 24 hours. It was no surprise that I couldn’t find my raincoat until the sun came out the next day. Nothing new there.
It was no surprise that after jumping into the 40-something-degree river to stretch out the water line, the pump’s motor burned out and we had no running water for the three days we were there. That meant no shower to clean up after working in and around the septic system and ankle-deep mud. No surprise there at all. None whatsoever! That’s standard operating procedure.
Now if I only knew how to carpentrate a water pump, things would be fine. But I don’t have a clue about that stuff.
No surprise there, either.
And that’s the way it looks from the Valley.