Readers may recall that last month, I mentioned that I had been invited up to the Owl’s Nest in the Green Mountains. Also scheduled to be there were: Homer Ouellette of Pittsfield, Paul Ouellette of Lanesboro, Doug Edwards and his son Blake Edwards of Windsor, Navy Lt. Commander (Ret) Fred Biegner and his son-in-law chef Craig Mitchell of North Kingston, RI, Bob Lamb of Cheshire and Ken Jardin (Homer’s son-in-law) of Hebron, CT. This will have been my 4th time there, the last time being around 1988.
The meals were listed in the invitation with everyone, except me, were assigned cooking duties. That is probably because I messed up a breakfast there back in the early 1980’s, when I had flipped the pancakes more than once. Apparently, that’s a no-no.
Owl’s Nest co-owner Bob Lamb towed a trailer with his 4 wheeler so that provisions could be hauled up to the cabin. Paul, who is 92 years old and is having leg problems these days, required a ride up in the trailer. His 89 year old brother Homer kept him company on the ride. The rest of us hiked.
Also towed up was an outdoor shower system that Bob owns. This amazing invention is comprised of a small pump which is placed in the nearby brook and powered by a car battery . A hose goes to an outdoor shower system near the cabin. This system is heated by propane and provides instant hot water for showering and cooking.
The cabin, which can sleep 9, is loaded with memorabilia, and each piece has its own story. There is a pulley system that is used to hoist wet clothing up near the rafters above the stove to dry over night
It was off season, with no deer hunting yet and trout fishing was winding down. It was too early for perch fishing on Lake Champlain which they usually do during ice fishing season. Incidentally, the organization Perch Unlimited (PU!) originated at this cabin.
So what goes on in a camp during off season? WORK! Preparations have to be made for the upcoming hunting/ice fishing seasons – wood has to be stacked in or near the cabin, coal has to be wheel barreled to the coal bin near the front deck, the stool shed/shed house has to be cleaned and dirt which had worked its way downhill and settled under the cabin over the years had to be removed to afford good ventilation.
After a hard day’s work, a couple of drinks, a spaghetti dinner and a good cigar, it was decided to build a bon fire and burn the “owl cat”. In the past, someone used a chain saw to carve a 3+ foot owl out of a large stump near the cabin. It was not liked (looked too much like a cat) and it was decided to saw it down and burn it up that evening. It was propped upright, and when it was burning, presented an eerie sight. As the flames licked all around it, the head and eyes appeared to be looking at us.
The next day, after breakfast, a morning of hard work and a delicious lunch, an accustomed game of show and tell took place. Each person brought some gadget and asked others to guess what it was. For example, Bob brought a devise for setting a beaver trap, Paul brought old pictures, Blake brought pictures from Alaska, Homer brought an old camera, etc. Perhaps the most interesting item was a home made little vehicle that Doug made and which was powered by a mouse trap.
Later on in the afternoon, Blake did some metal detecting while Bob started heating the oil for an oil-cooked turkey which we were having for dinner. We were expecting guests that evening for dinner. In addition to the 9 of us, two neighbors Nancy Kolesnik, who is an abutter at the foot of the mountain, and a friend were coming.
What a sight as they hiked up the trail to the cabin, Nancy with a covered basket of freshly baked rolls and her friend with a couple of bottles of his homemade elderberry wine. Her black lab Shooter accompanied them. Also arriving later that evening were Maureen Soules from Lee and her friend Gordy Merrill from Hancock, VT. Maureen is the daughter of the late Bill Brighenti, one of the original builders/owners of the Owl’s nest. She is now a part owner of the Owl’s Nest through inheritance.
That evening, we sat around adjoining tables enjoying a delicious meal of roast ham, oil-fried turkey, stuffing, squash, potatoes, etc. Picture it – lit by propane lanterns, 13 people and a dog enjoying a delicious meal and wonderful company in a warm, rustic cabin up in the Green Mountains. It was like celebrating Thanksgiving. Now that I think about it, the guests did come over the river and thru the woods.
The next morning, after breakfast and work assignments, Doug and son Brady instructed some guys on how to build their own mouse trap powered vehicles. Afterward, they had racing contests with the winners receiving prizes.
Soon it was time to leave. After loading everything into the wagon, Paul included, we headed back down the mountain. I had to chuckle at the sight of Paul being driven down the mountain like General George Patton. All he needed was an ivory handled pistol. Lt Commander Biegner must have thought likewise for as they passed him on the trail, he stopped, turned and saluted.
What a unique and enjoyable weekend, one that I shall never forget.