Fall at the Cabin

If it’s MEA weekend, that means a trip to the cabin, right?  Never mind that we no longer have kids in school, and want to take advantage of the teachers’ convention days off.  It is still a fall ritual.

Knowing this was coming, we debated whether to leave the water system running after our previous visit.  I don’t know if it was laziness or foresight that led us to take the risk.  After all, one can’t argue the niceties of running water.  Watching the temperatures dip to 14 degrees some nights Up North, I admit to being a bit nervous about our decision.  But all was well upon our arrival, and we did appreciate the convenience.

Late October is not the most attractive time of year at the cabin.  Fall leaves are down, grass is beginning to turn brown, skies can be gray.  But it also has its compensations.  As our son Erik said, there is good reason to keep a fire burning in the fireplace, and yet it’s not freezing cold when you step outside.  On one of our requisite hikes, our feet swished through the fallen leaves, or trampled the quieter blanket of pine needles, depending on the nature of the surrounding trees.  The lack of leaves provided greater views, exposing the environs that are usually hidden.  We saw stark evidence of the July storms that blew down vast numbers of trees in the area, and the frequency with which they were snapped mid-way down their trunk.  That left the tree tops either skirting the ground, dangling in mid-air or caught in between by other trees.  A prime example was situated right on the edge of the trail.  A huge tree was snapped in two and its top half rested on two other trees, one of which was right next to the trail.  It’s branches were trimmed to allow us to pass, but bright red plastic tape adorned the branches and announced “Killer Tree” all along its length.  We understood its meaning – its perch was precarious and the tree could easily topple unexpectedly.  We’d just never seen it so spelled out so literally!  I only wish I’d taken a picture.

Our next  discovery was beaver territory.  We came upon an opening that was littered with trees chewed by beavers.  Some had toppled, and were further gnawed along the trunk while accessible on the ground.  Others were poised to fall, their trunks thinned to a narrow stalk.  What was so unique was how recent the activity was – the exposed wood was creamy white and the wood chips were fresh and moist.  We could see the teeth marks, and discovered that we could pull apart tree layers in the supple chips.  It wasn’t hard to spot the nearby beaver mound in the lake, and we retreated down the trail hoping to witness their activity, but the beavers declined to oblige.

At the conclusion of the weekend, it truly was time to winterize the cabin.  No point in pressing our luck further.  It was opportune to have Erik there, so Rich could show him the ropes.  Plunging into the chilly lake water to remove the water intake, laying the hoses out in the yard, and disconnecting the few pipes under the cabin.  It’s time to pass on the knowledge.  After all, we intend to keep coming for MEA weekend for years to come.

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