This fall the cabin got a new roof, a new porch, new screens, new supports and–ta da!–a floor. The excitement of the floor cannot be sufficiently described. Let’s just say that joy = pine tongue and groove.
Banjo Man loves sweeping it.
Son Will and Banjo Man spent several weeks assisting with all of these improvements, while our Montana contractor friend headed the crew and gave advice and instructions and worked alongside of the less-experienced members of my family.
Here’s an older photo of the view of the lake from the cabin. A lot of those trees are gone now and the view is more dramatic.
Oh, how Banjo Man loves it up there in the mountains! He’s owned the land since he was a young man, long before I came along. He is now shopping for a 4Runner to drive up there next summer. And he is making plans for a new outhouse.
I think there is a wood cookstove and maybe a propane refrigerator in our future. It’s off-the-grid, folks, and very primitive.
Which is part of its charm. According to my husband.
I drove down to Home Goods on Saturday hoping to find a white twin-sized fleece blanket. Oddly there were very few blankets. But there was a pumpkin pillow!
Banjo Man hauled my bins of velvet pumpkins and fall decorations up from the basement in the morning, so I am slowly placing pumpkins around the house. Later today I will finish decorating the mantle and organizing the decorations for the Thanksgiving tablescapes.
Let there be pumpkins!
On Sunday I went to the local pumpkin patch, where they were giving hay rides through the pumpkin fields. I should have bought a ticket and gone for a ride.
Can you see all the different pumpkins? Dark green, lemon yellow, pink, striped and the oh-so-popular butterscotch warty ones. The place was packed with people hauling pumpkins around on little wagons. Lots of excited children, too.
I bought a small striped one, having never seen them before. It reminded me of candy corn (note to self: must buy a bag). I would have bought more, but we live in the country at the end of a long driveway and there is no one to appreciate a decorated porch or smile at warty pumpkins.
And then it was time to move on to a farm stand on a beach road to buy a pot of mums for the dining room table. October in New England is a time of bright colored leaves, pumpkins, gourds, huge pots of mums and sunshine.
This was the view from the plane as we flew over Colorado last Wednesday afternoon.
The sudden onset of smoke was startling. Such a filthy sight after many miles of blue skies and fluffy white clouds!
Our trip back East was uneventful. We flew with Will to Denver and we separated in the plane so each one of us had a window seat. At Southwest the middle seats are still left open, which is lovely.
FYI: Everyone–and I mean everyone–wore masks. At the Spokane, Denver and Baltimore airports, every single person I saw was masked. As they were on all the flights. 100% compliance.
The airline industry wants you to feel safe. And we did.
Denver’s airport was packed with people, but the three of us found a restaurant where we had our last meal together and talked about our favorite moments of the summer. Then there were hugs goodbye and final waves and we went in different directions for the next flights.
Banjo Man and I landed in Baltimore at midnight, so that airport was much quieter. We spent the night in Baltimore and then flew out the next morning to arrive in Providence at 10:20 AM.
And yes, once again everyone was masked.
And now we are home. The leaves are turning color and falling to the ground. I am going to a pumpkin patch this morning to admire pumpkins and buy a little pot of mums. After a couple of weeks of cleaning the lake house in preparation of leaving it, we are now cleaning again.
Make it stop.
We had one last campfire the night before we left the lake.
We arrived here at the lake in early June, amidst the cool weather and plenty of clouds. And Covid. Naturally everyone was afraid of the virus, so we were careful to quarantine for two weeks after our flights from back East.
I was so afraid I would spend the summer all by myself, as I’d spent a very long spring. There is a quilt shop here in town, so I went there and bought fabric. Would I spend the summer cutting and sewing? Probably. Was my Texas family coming? Maybe not. Would I see my friends? I had no idea.
I cried all the way back to the lake.
But the isolation didn’t last forever, thank goodness. Check out the social distancing on the side of the mountain near Bull River in June.
We appreciated the fire.
Social distancing? Absolutely. Outside? What could be better!
Fortunately for my mental health, we found ways to get together these past four months. It’s all about the outdoors, of course.
Corn hole game.
Dancing Mandolin Players luncheon for the Montana and Peninsula gals.
Dinner for two with my French Friend Janou!
A morning with DMP visiting farm stands.
Looking for the rise of the moon.
A self-distancing Montana lunch and mini baby shower.
How about a late September cocktail party? Nine of us managed to stay safe while drinking wine and filling our plates with yummy food.
Hospitality at the Border.
My Texas family did indeed make the trip to Idaho. They drove, brought their own sheets and sleeping bags into the hotel rooms, used face masks and ate at drive-through restaurants. They were determined to get here safely and so they did. We had a ball.
Looking for fish.
And now we’re busy packing up, cleaning up, picking up. We only have a few days left before heading back to New England and whatever faces us there in relation to the virus. We’ll quarantine again. I’ll unpack my velvet pumpkins and bake pumpkin muffins. My November is filled with medical tests and procedures, but there is Thanksgiving to look forward to.
Everyone I’ve talked to says they’ve never experienced a storm like the one we had on Labor Day Monday.
The guys were up and out early, before seven, to head up to the cabin and get things ready for the work on the roof to start first thing Tuesday morning. I was alone with my coffee, enjoying the quiet.
And then the wind picked up. Really picked up. I stood at the living room doors to look down at the beach and realized I hadn’t taken down the umbrella and that Will’s favorite hat in the whole world, a straw hat purchased one July in New Orleans, was sitting on the grass beside the little stone patio.
So I headed downstairs to throw on some clothes and rescue the umbrella and hat. I was on the outside stairs heading down when I heard a tree creaking in the wind. Not a good sound! I turned around and headed back inside as the wind began to roar louder and the power went out (thank goodness for the generator).
The next four and half hours would be spent jogging from window to window and floor to floor watching trees fall around the house, watching the umbrella fly and bounce along the beach, talking on the phone with the neighbors (one had two trees crash onto her roof as we were talking, another had a huge tree smashed onto her garage, the other had our trees and her trees come down perilously close to her cabin) and texting Will to tell him and his father to stay up in the woods until the storm was over.
“Pandemonium”, as one volunteer EMT described our peninsula. The nearby campers at the packed federal campground had been woken by 8 am and told to run for their lives to the large open beach. Trees fell on tents and cars and RV’s, the road out was blocked and it would take emergency crews hours to saw open the road out to the highway once the wind stopped.
By noon we came out of our houses and surveyed the damage. Banjo Man and Will returned, having sawed themselves out of the woods. A tree had crashed across our driveway and had taken the power lines with it. We lost a screen on the porch, the top of a small tree (the one I assume had been creaking), and two huge trees near the water.
We were incredibly lucky. The rest of our road looked like a tornado blew through it. Hundreds of trees are down. It’s a huge mess and will be for quite a while.
That afternoon all we could hear were chainsaws and people calling to one another as they worked to remove trees. No one could believe the damage done or that the wind had blown so hard for so many hours.
This was the view from my front window, at the start of hour 2:
Metal chairs, supposedly tucked safely together at the end of the dock, blew four feet in the air and into the water. Including a chaise lounge, which I watched levitate as if it was plastic.
I have a video of trees being lifted at the roots every time the wind gusted and I have been trying for almost three weeks to upload it to my computer to share with you. So far I’m still struggling to get it to work. But I’m not giving up, because in the video you can hear the wind and watch the trees finally crash down.
You can see from this photo how the root systems lifted up:
My umbrella may or may not have survived. It’s on the lower deck and I have yet to see if is damaged beyond repair. The power and the internet returned after a few days. The crews came that afternoon and sawed trees from power lines and noted each individual situation. They were amazing.
And Will’s hat? It sat on its patch of grass for five hours and never budged. We have no idea why, as the inflated toys and chairs flew up the hill and crashed into rocks and trees.
The clean up continues, although for over a week no one could do anything outside as the smoke from the California and Oregon fires descended.
We lived in an eerie world for a while.
And now? The sun is shining. It’s 39 degrees, a lovely fall morning.
Here we are up at the cabin a couple of weeks ago. Banjo Man is explaining something to me. I do not remember a word he said.
That might be classed as a Secret to a Long Marriage: Don’t remember anything he says.
I’ll have to give that some thought.
Other revelations? If you are not prepared for constant compromise and if you and your future spouse don’t have a sense of humor, then get a dog instead of getting married.
Our fancy anniversary celebration today will consist of a late afternoon campfire on the beach (it rained buckets last night) with a bottle of wine, a make-your-own-flatbread-pizza party with Will and then a college football game or two on the tv.
Have I told you about our new internet? No more buffering during football games! It is truly remarkable and makes life worth living on game days.
We have eleven days left here at the lake. Work on the cabin continues furiously, as does my annual cleaning out of freezers, refrigerators, cabinets, closets, food, etc. There are chairs and tables and kayaks to store, along with a myriad of other things to do to close up the house for the winter.
But the rain has stopped and blue sky is peeking through the clouds, making life a bit easier. A campfire will be perfect on this chilly day as we celebrate this particular anniversary.
Last Thursday the Elberta peaches arrived at the Peach Man. I’d checked the Facebook page and knew they’d–finally–be in town. So I was there at the tent at 8:45, just in case Mike the Peach Man opened early. And he had.
I wasn’t going to buy a whole box. But I couldn’t resist when I saw the stacks of boxes. And then, after I picked out a bag of plums and a bag of sweet corn, I asked for another box of peaches.
There was no way I could walk out of there knowing that it would be another year before I would buy a box of such luscious peaches again. Two boxes of peaches sat in the back of the Highlander! An embarrassment of riches.
So far I’ve made two peach cobblers (different recipes) and a peach quick bread. Today I might summon enough energy to make a pie. Or at least a galette. And we’re eating bowls of freshly sliced peaches with homemade ice cream whenever the mood strikes us.
Our Labor Day weekend will be quiet, as so many weekends have been. But the weather is perfect for long afternoons on the beach, reading on the patio or napping on the dock. Last night we made our own pizzas using flat breads and the grill. Tonight I’m going to stuff zucchini’s and tomorrow Banjo Man is planning a Taco Extravaganza.
On Monday the guys will be up at the cabin preparing for the work that will start there on Tuesday. New roof! New porch! A plan to thwart mosquitoes!
Banjo Man’s heart beats faster just thinking about it. Just like mine does when I see boxes of peaches.
We’d promised ourselves a Sunday morning kayaking jaunt. It was a bit breezy so we didn’t plan to go far, just around the point to paddle along the shoreline for a while. It’s a different view of the world from the water.
After all of that paddling, we hung out on the beach for a while and watched the boats in the bay. I find that endlessly fascinating, by the way. We have some excellent water skiers around here.
The guys decided they wanted to take a drive. Up a mountain. Come on, they said, it will be fun.
I no longer think mountain drives are fun. It’s a “been there, done there, don’t want to die” thing. And if you have ever driven across the Skalkaho Pass in western Montana, you would know exactly what I’m talking about.
I strongly urged the men in my life to drive up whatever mountains they wanted while I stayed home and read the latest Peter Bowen book I’d just picked up from the library (curbside pick up only, sigh).
Banjo Man and Will wouldn’t leave without me. They promised an easy road outside of town, they promised to turn around if the road made me queasy, they promised not to laugh at my terror of high places with no guardrails.
So…off we went.
And it was fun! The wide road was well-maintained and, because it followed a huge creek, cut between mountains and was not scary at all. We drove about 13 miles and stopped at an isolated little camping area.
And then we headed back down to town and eventually back home to eat dinner on the porch and play a few rounds of Canasta.
We have played a lot of Canasta this summer. I created a Summer 2020 Canasta Score Book. There are always snacks. I mostly lose.
The three of us have been living together almost three months now and we’re perfectly content with our daily routines. We’re a relaxed little trio this summer as Covid and riots rage elsewhere. We’ll be forced to abandon the Lake Bubble eventually, but for now? Peace and cards and pie reign supreme.
We left Choteau reluctantly. We bought sandwiches at a deli across the street from the museum and then headed west.
Banjo Man wants to return and see Egg Mountain, where dinosaur eggs have been found. He wants to return to Choteau and spend more time in the museum. He wants to spend the night in Fort Benton and go to all of the museums again. He wants to eat in the Grand Union hotel’s dining room.
I want to go to the Log Cabin Cafe and eat pie.
Doesn’t he look like he is modeling Montana Travel Wear?
Our next stop: St. Ignatius and points north. We found the incredible Ninepipes Museum in Charlo, but they closed two hours earlier than we thought, so we had to rush through it.
It was so incredible we know we have to go back when there is lots more time to absorb everything. Their gift shop was huge, but once again I couldn’t shop while wearing a mask even though there were earrings that called out to me.
I bought a greeting card. When I got it home I realized it was not a plain note card with Indian women sitting on a hill but instead was a sister-to-sister happy birthday card.
We also went to the oldest Trading Post in Montana. See for yourself:
We stopped at one more gift shop before returning to Highway 200 and–ta da!–I bought a pair of warm “I Love Montana” socks.
Then we headed west, towards home. Two and a half hours later we were back at the lake. It had been such a great trip, with more wonderful things to see than we had thought possible.