Tuesday, September 10, 2013

OUR SUMMER VACATION; by Milton O. Nelson; part 2 of 2; September 1912

It is a short look from our front door to the snow line above the Boy Camp: but it is fifty long, crooked, up-and-down miles by wagon. During that week we found ourselves looking up from our work much more often than usual to the great mountain wrapped in its mantel of purple and white: and often in the middle of things the boy's mother would say: "I wonder what he's doing now"--just as though everybody had been thinking of Little Boy and would know who the "he" was. We couldn't stand this for more than five days so in spite of the certainty that the way was long and rocky and steep, dusty and mosquito-infested, we hitched up the road mare to the little buggy and in the cool of the morning started for the mountain and the Boy Camp far up on its shoulder. To Sue the way to Boy Camp was an air line and easily flown.

It was in the dusk of the evening with just afterglow enough to show the dead-white blanket on the old, dead volcano, that two tired, bumped, and dusty parents and one tired little mare drew up in sight of a little tent far up the steep, and one great, big, long-legged, sunburned, little boy came bouncing down the crooked trail to meet us.

"And didn't you get homesick at all?" his mother asked after the wonders of the week had been rehearsed.

"If I did, I didn't show it," he said stoutly. "But my! The other boys are awfully homesick."

"Would you have had a better time if we had been here?" (this from his fond mother.)

"Great shucks, yes!" But say, I caught six brook trout yesterday, and I found, Oh, such a dandy waterfall! Can you come with me tomorrow and see it?"

We staid ("stayed" was spelled this was in 1912) and saw the waterfall and his ma caught trout under his tutelage and explored the canyon and found the waterfall and took a photo of it. Then we came home by easy stages, exploring as we came. This outing took nine of his days and three of ours right out of the middle of weeding time. Yet six months from now the weeds will be as dead as though we had staid at home, and sixty years from now, if Heaven lets him stay that long, Little Boy will still keep the memory of the bivouac by the roadside, the campfire under the fir trees, the roaring, twisting, ice-cold streams in the deep woods, the far view over mountain ranges from the snow fields of the old volcano, the trout under the log in the brook, and the waterfall in the canyon that he found himself and gave his own name.

Life is not all for work, for the killing of weeds, and the raising of cabbages. There are places in it made expressly for the pure squandering of hours, for strenuous idleness, and for memories. These mix in well with daily work. It glorifies daily work to drop it now and again and get the view from the top of the mountain.