It was a mid-August morning in 1978. Though I had been up for a couple of hours I still had not made any plans for any expeditions that day. It was a perfectly warm day to enjoy the outdoors with just a few clouds in the sky.
My dog Mutt and I sat on the front porch soaking in some of the morning sun.
As I scratched her behind her ears I watched the big bumble bees as they wove in and out of the flowers growing along the walkway to the porch.
Each bee seemed to be laboring under its own weight and bumped into each flower before landing.
Mutt stood up and stretched out her limbs before slowly walking off the porch. She looked back at me as if to say, “My turn. Follow me.”
Most of our evenings around the lake in August of 1978 were spent playing two-hour games of Kick the Can in the yard. Midway through the month it became clear to us all that the days were getting shorter.
And with darkness coming progressively earlier, the whole crew of us pre-teen kids decided to move like a herd to the lakefront for a campfire.
It was the perfect night for just staring into the warm flames. I tipped my head back and flipped up the visor of my ball cap to peer at the early evening stars. It was a beehive of energy around that stone-encircled firepit. The girls giggled at some of the jokes that were being told while other kids made s’mores.
Dave liked to poke at the fire with a long and sturdy maple poker. We all liked to see the shower of sparks fly up when the large logs were prodded into the perfect pile of flame and charred wood.
Like any growing 13 year old boy, I spent a lot of time focusing on food. When I was younger than that, eating was not something that was on the top of my daily priority list.
But as I grew older I became more fixated with casseroles, salads and the aromas emitting from crockpots and chafing dishes.
At home, our dinner menus were formatted pretty rigidly. Thursday was spaghetti night, pancakes on Sunday, and hamburgers and hotdogs, or fish sticks on other days.
Then there were the holiday meals at my grandmother’s house where the food was a gift to my tastebuds and almost as good as any present.
Every once in a while we would go out to dinner, or be invited to another family’s house.
It was the first week of August of 1977 and I and every other 11 year old boy I knew were out in the woods picking berries. I had been checking my favorite berry picking locations for a few weeks.
And when I woke up one morning I just knew that was the day my dog Mutt and I would be taking a few plastic buckets out for an adventure.
Mutt seemed just as pleased as I that the berries were fully ready for harvest.
She almost toppled me over trying to get out the living room door as I slipped on my sneaks.
When I stepped outside my nose was filled with the smell of ready-to-pick fruit from the plants that surrounded our home.
I searched around for some old buckets and found a couple I had previously used to collect worms, frogs, crayfish, or minnows in.
The bottoms looked kind of crusty so I gave them a good scrubbing with an old wooden horse brush.
As I enjoyed a hike up the rocky creek from Limekiln Lake to that small murky body of water known as Fawn Lake, I spotted some beavers making a house.
It was the summer of 1978 and my dog Mutt and I had been up the creek almost thirty times already. It was one of our favorite things to do.
Mutt was happy to creep from one deep pool to another in the rock-strewn creek bed as I hopped the slimy green rock surfaces.
Monotony of summer activities inspires creation of adventures
Somewhere near the middle of the summer of 1978 I began to tire of all the things I usually liked to do. I had spent a lot of time hopping the rocks to Fawn Lake, fishing, and taking the canoe out. I caught frogs and hiked and biked every trail.
So what I really needed was a good adventure to mix things up.
My dog Mutt seemed to be in a similar state of mind as we sat in the shade of the maple tree near our house, watching tiny ants make their way among the clumps of grass.
All of a sudden the silence was broken by my friend Eddie who came barreling into the yard on his bike.
He skidded to a stop and dropped the bike in a single motion. He came over and flopped down next to us, asking what we were up to.
“Well, me and Mutt were thinking about an adventure. What do ya think?” I said. Continue reading
Scavenging for materials to craft perfect slingshot
The summer of 1977 had hit its stride and I was in search of just the right materials to create the perfect slingshot. I went out to the garage and came across an old tire tube my father had cut up to tie some wildfire hoses together.
In my 11-year-old mind I envisioned they would be just right to make a large catapult-style slingshot capable of tossing grapefruit-sized projectiles.
My next quest was to locate a branch that would be suitable for the frame.
I grabbed a small handsaw from my father’s workbench and placed it into my canvas knapsack along with my Swiss army knife. Continue reading