Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thoughts on Life Preserving Jackets... and other things

Today I cleaned out the Johnny Sack 'guest cabin'.  This two-room log cabin was a gift from the US forest service that came with our signature on the lease of the property.  It is built of logs with a wood floor, metal roof, and concrete foundation.  The bedroom has a small closet and two windows with glass panes, screens, and shutters to keep out the snow.  The other room is a screened porch with screened, shuttered windows on 3 sides and a door.  I’m not sure any of our guests would like to sleep in this cabin.  It is drafty and dusty.  Chewbacca, our red tailed squirrel, lives in and underneath it with his family during the long, cold winters. 

Johnny Sack was somewhat of an enigma around these parts.  He stood 4 feet 11 inches tall and what a bit of a recluse.  He built several log cabins when all this area belonged to him and used them as 'guest cabins'.  Ours is one of them.  His original log home is open to visitors in the summer months and is not a mile from here at Big Springs.

My desire to clean out the guest cabin began when I pulled out bicycles left behind by previous owners in need of repair.  Once they were out of the way I could see better the mess that had been made by Chewbacca.  Sweeping and organizing was needed.  As I made my way through the bedroom, I pulled out life jackets from their bins.  I counted 31 in all.  How had we ended up with so many?  Some had been left behind by previous owners.  Some we brought with us from our years of camping and boating.  A few were donated by family members.  I recognized a few as having been worn by nieces and nephews and wondered if they had been left behind by Uncle Jeff.  As I took each one out and inspected it, I could picture my children, when they were children, in the some of the small ones.  Many were faded.  Some had torn areas.  I could see Kelsey in the little pink one with the head rest and handle, bobbing in the pool.  I could picture Keith and Jacob in the blue ones in the canoe.  Here was Brady’s yellow one.  And Sarah, being the youngest, wore all of them.  They were so small then.  There in the Johnny Sack cabin, I could almost hear their childish voices again and wanted to go back to another time when my children were young again. And liked me, needed me.  I remembered times in Nevada and California at the lakes we floated there in our canoe.  Times when we went boating with friends in their ski boats.  Times we swam in unsure waters.  Now my granddaughters have worn the little pink one and the yellow one.  As I carefully put each one back into the bins, I found myself thankful for the years of service these innate objects had given keeping my precious children safe in the water. 
The hours I spent in cleaning out the Johnny Sack cabin were dusty but enjoyable.  It is tidy and organized now.  My husband reminded me that he had already gone through it at least twice before I did today.  The other things in that little cabin are important, too.  The hammock brought back from Costa Rica by our son Keith, the Camp Chef stove, tools we need to keep things in order around the property, a bag of mulch for the new trees, hoses, shovels, a lantern.  Did I mention 11 canoe paddles and four kayak paddles?  But nothing touched my heart as much as handling those old, little life preservers that kept my children safe in the water.  In the end one of the small blue ones had been sacrificed to Chewbacca’s need to provide a nest for his family.  Thanks be to God for that person who first designed them and marketed them so that I could have them in bins in Johnny Sack’s guest cabin.