Chapter 7 - All Kinds of Company
|The next few days went pretty smoothly. Gramma was a good organizer and soon had Bruce rolling up his sleepin’ bag himself and stowing it in the spare room. Grampa lowered the drying line so Bruce could hang his clothes after Gramma “rinsed off the worst of it” in a pan of lake water pumped up for the purpose. The rest of the time he was “helping” Grampa with chores around the place or going on adventures with Pete.
One time he and Pete were out snooping around the woods next to the cabin when all of a sudden Pete went stone still, eyes fixed on something, and then bolted like he was shot out of a cannon. Bruce had never seen anything move so fast. Seconds later he heard the awful-est snarling and thrashing, then silence. Pete came ambling back, head down, sneezing and snorting and shaking his head.
“Pete, what did you get into?” Grampa had come over and spoke sharply to Pete.
Pete stopped and dropped, putting his head on his front paws. Grampa walked over closer, sniffed and began saying things that would get Bruce a half dozen licks with the belt if he said em’. Apparently Grampas were special when it came to those sorts of words.
Gramma had arrived and quickly surveyed the situation. “Bruce come with me. Now! Walt, I’ll get the washtub and the tomato juice and bring it back. Keep him in the woods or he’ll stink up the whole damn yard.”
Grampa spent the next hour with rubber gloves and tomato juice doing his best to get the smell of skunk off his dog. As Grampa washed and brushed, he talked to Pete like he was a person. Telling him “how foolish he was to kill a skunk." And how "that had better be the last one this season, and unless he wanted to sleep under the cabin for the rest of his life he should let the damn skunks the hell alone.” Pete for his part seemed to like all the attention sitting in the washtub panting and giving Grampa a few sloppy dog licks now and again.
And so the early summer days passed. Grampa got his garden in: tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and cucumbers. Plus, there seemed to be an endless array of chores and maintenance items on the cabin, grounds, and boats.
Most weekday mornings Bruce would fish off the dock, help Grampa in the afternoons and they would all take the big boat out to fish walleyes in the evening. Grampa recording it all for the paper with his new Nikon 35mm camera. Thursdays, Grampa would go into the Herald Review for his darkroom and photofinishing chores in time to make the weekend edition.
The weekends were the best. They would almost always have company. Friends would come on Saturday morning and stay all day, often til’ late into the night. Bruce’s uncles, aunts, and cousins would come up from the cities and stay the weekend. They all had dogs it seemed, and they all brought their dogs along.
Bruce was in heaven. Grampa took photos of three and four kids at a time fishing off the dock. Older kids could row out in the little boat. Others would catch frogs and crayfish. Little girls would screech and run from worms and fish guts and you name it.
The adults would tell stories, laugh and drink beer, smoke cigarettes and pipes, and cook out in the yard. Sometimes the whole bunch would pile into, and onto, “Old Iron Sides’ and putter-put-put over to the sand bar on Drumbeater island for an afternoon of swimming, cooking out, and exploring the island.
Truly this was paradise for a 7-year-old boy. He fell asleep exhausted, well fed, and mostly-clean each night. Gramma said she would be glad for July when he and Grampa could bathe in the lake.