"Mom! Dad! Me and Uncle Larry are home!"
"Did you have fun, Paul?" mom asked, coming from the living room.
"Yes. Yes. When we first started out, there was this big hill. It was high like a mountain. Uncle Larry made sure I had my snowshoes on right, mom. I was pretty good in the deep snow, too. He said so."
"Take a deep breath and relax,” mom said. “Now both of you get in and close the door. Mosquitoes might come in."
"There’s no mosquitoes in winter, mom," Paul answered.
"I know. Besides, you know what I mean."
"Mom. We really packed our sleighs A-1. We tied rope all around our sleeping bags. Good thing they were in garbage bags. You were right the snow was deeper than a mile. You bet.”
“That’s nice Paul,” mom said.
“Good thing I had my warmest winter toque. You know, the one with a place for my mouth and eyes. The ruts in the road helped us keep the toboggans from tipping over, dad."
"Why don't you take your boots off, son?" dad asked.
"It was awesome,” Paul answered. “Uncle Larry let me go first to break up the snow. He said they did that a long time ago when he was in Boy Scouts. We had to keep resting, because the wind was so cold. But we finally got to the top of the hill. I even helped Uncle Larry with his heavy packsack."
"Don’t forget to take off the other boot," mom said patiently.
"We kept checking our watches. Uncle Larry said it shouldn't take this long to get to the cabin. I think he was really tired, dad."
"How about sitting down, son. Aren’t you tired?"
"Then, the sky got dark so fast. At first it was light, then all of a sudden I could hardly see my fingers. Uncle Larry was way behind me. I had to find a short cut to our cabin. Remember our 'secret trail,' dad? Well, I showed it to him."
"And then?" Paul’s dad asked, smiling.
"First, we had to come down the steep gully. It was slow going up the hill, but going down was fun. We had to move out of the way because our sleighs were moving like a speeding train. Uncle Larry looked so funny when his landed on top of him."
Is your jacket wet?" mom asked.
"Well, I sure got a surprise when we used the 'secret trail’. The willow trees were all bent from the ice storm. It must have been the same one that blanketed Bass River last week. We had to crawl on our hands and knees. Except sometimes, Uncle Larry couldn't get low enough. I bet he wished he were only eleven years old too. Mom. Dad. You should have seen it. I was laughing so hard. Good thing I had my flashlight. His was hiding in the bottom of his backpack."
"Is your shirt wet?" mom asked.
"Well, we finally got to the cabin. It was freezing inside. Then we got all our food and stuff in. I lit the four candles you gave me, mom. I even helped make a fire. Uncle Larry said he was starving. Good thing you gave us those peanut butter cookies. I told Uncle Larry they were for later. He fixed up our sleeping bags on our two mattresses and I made sure the cabin door stayed closed."
"Are your socks wet, too?" dad asked.
"I cooked some oatmeal cereal. It was just the way you taught me, mom. I made two bowls each. Uncle Larry had to eat most of my bowl. He was really hungry. He didn’t mind if mine was kind of lumpy. Then we had to get ready for bed. But first, Uncle Larry said we had to look at the stars. Mom...Dad, they were like diamonds. They really were. Even the sky was different from back at our village. I can barely see the stars there."
"Here's a towel to dry your feet,” mom said. Now, put on these slippers."
"Uncle Larry told me a whole bunch of camping stories when he was my age. I tried to tell him some, but I couldn't remember any. The wind kept roaring through the cabin. It felt like the boards had holes all over, like Swiss cheese. Uncle Larry made sure I had an extra blanket on."
"I bet your feet feel warmer now," mom said.
"I was a little scared in the night. But Uncle Larry kept telling me everything was okay. I wished my dog Sheeba, was beside me. You know, just in case a bear tried to break in. Uncle Larry kept telling me to go to sleep. He said he would protect me. Besides, he said bears wouldn't bother a nice fellow like me."
"I suppose your pants are wet too,“ mom said.
“Do you want a hot chocolate drink to warm up?" dad asked.
"I was sure glad when morning came. I got up first. Uncle Larry said it was too early. He said his sleeping bag was warm as toast. So I told him he could have two peanut butter cookies, but only if he got up right away. He said three. So I had to give. Or else, he might have stayed in his sleeping bag all day."
"Here. Drink this," dad said.
"Then we got dressed in clean clothes quick as anything. The cabin was ice cold. I almost fainted when I saw everything frozen solid. Our spare water, milk and leftover cereal was like ice. Even the bread was a big chunk. No wonder my toes almost broke off. When we talked I thought our words would crack. Then Uncle Larry showed me something through the window. The sun poked through the trees. And some of the rays shone on a huge branch. It had a chunk of ice on it and colors came out in all directions. Uncle Larry said it was like a prism. It was so beautiful, mom. "
"Is the drink helping you to warm up, son?" dad asked.
"We finally got ready and went hunting rabbits. There were so many tracks. They must have had a dance or something last night. Uncle Larry said they come out mostly when adults and kids are sleeping. Imagine, in that cold weather. It must have been a hundred below zero. We snow shoed all over the place. I showed Uncle Larry your maple sugar bush, dad. He wants to help when we start 'tapping' trees. I said we have to put in about 1,500 taps. He thought that was lots. I said, not really."
"Do you want another hot drink, son?" both parents asked.
"After hunting I wanted to go tobogganing. Uncle Larry went flying over a jump I told him to try. He wasn't even scared, dad. Then we had a contest to see who could go the farthest. I won't tell you who won, mom. Somebody might start bragging. Pretty soon we ate our beans and wieners. I ate four. They were delicious. Everything smelled so good, too. Then we had to come home. I was getting tired and had to stop and rest a lot. Going to the cabin was hard because we had to climb hills. But coming back was really great. We buzzed around like racers. Even Uncle Larry went flying down the hill. Good thing he was at the bottom by the bridge. I might have gone for a swim. Hey my pants are sure wet! I must have gone so fast, I fell in and didn't even know it."
"Paul…Paul?" It was time to interrupt the one-way conversation.
"What, Uncle Larry?"
"Let's you and I get out of this hallway and sit down. That way, your tongue can have a rest."
"Yeah. Super idea. Hey, I'm really beat. You too, Uncle Larry?"
"Me too. Sounds like you had fun on our trip."
"Yeah. Dad? Mom? I think I'm going to go to bed now. Uncle Larry?"
"Thanks. I really had fun."
© 2010 Richard & Esther Provencher
Richard’s URL: http://writers.ns.ca/Writers/rprovencher.html