The Little Cabin
Part 3 in a series about "My Newfoundland".
We were happy enough camping in Catamaran Park but Dad had a vision. He was determined to find a cabin for us on one of the three inter-connected Badger Lakes. The park was situated on Joe’s Lake, or as locals refer to it, First Lake.
Back then there were only a dozen cabins or so along the six miles of First Lake, and the government wasn’t making new land grants. Finding a cabin to buy was no easy feat.
In the shelter of a stand of old pine trees at the north end of First Lake sat an old cabin. It faced south and sat on a point near the channel to second lake. We never saw any people at the cabin but Dad knew the owner and asked him if he’d be willing to sell. Knowing Dad, he probably asked him every time he saw him. I guess he wore him down because one day the owner said yes, he’d sell. Afraid he’d change his mind, Dad hurried to the bank and brought him the money he’d asked for. That was close to fifty years ago.
It was still May when we drove up one Friday evening for our very first weekend stay. Since there was no road into the place we parked at the far end of a long rocky path. Then the six of us lugged the groceries and whatever else we needed through some very dark woods. No complaints that I remember.
It was a simple cabin – one tiny bedroom that fit two bunks and nothing else, and a larger room with a pullout couch and a little kitchen nook. After we made the place shine, Mom hung a few rolls of wallpaper left over from the trailer renovation.
Fact: Newfs are accustomed to an abundance of mosquitoes every spring and early summer. In Newfanese, "Da flies are as tick as molasses!" That said, I’ve never seen more of them than that first weekend at the little cabin. It was as if I could swat millions with one wave of my arms, and “fly dope” as we called it, wasn’t much help. (My siblings and I grew up thinking that a half-dozen bug bites behind our necks was normal.)
We spent cool and rainy days playing crazy eights, rummy or cribbage. If the rain settled in, which it sometimes did for days, we got out the Monopoly board and played until the dollar bills and Chance cards were all over the floor - one of us kids usually got fed up with how the game was going. To this day, whenever we play Monopoly I half expect the board to be tossed into the air!
On a hot summer day there was often a carload or two that came by for an afternoon in the water followed by a barbeque. Every now and then a few cousins visited from St. John's. The Pearson’s and the Dawe’s usually came by boat. I can still see Gloria Pearson disembarking in shallow water and walking to shore in her yellow lifejacket. She then untied the jacket and down fell a flowy dress fell down to her ankles. I thought that by now I would’ve made a fabulous party entrance like that. Time to update my bucket list!
The families would spread chairs and blankets on the pebble beach and the kids swam in water that was downright cold. Even when I lived in Newfoundland I thought it was cold. After lunch Dad would start up the boat and give every kid a chance to water ski. Even if it took ten tries to get up – he didn't give up on them. That’s because Des, as he was called, was happy as long as someone was having the time of their lives.
One time Dad let go the tow rope a little too late and came in too fast onto the beach where he proceeded to do a cartwheel before landing upright. A kid doesn’t forget that, not that I ever tried to emulate any of his high-jinx!
After a day of water sports we'd cook up a scoff and maybe have a campfire. We’d rummage through the woods for the perfect twig and roast marshmallows ‘til they were perfectly tinged. Good times.
Badger Lake has given our family many good times. In time Scott and I went off to college on the mainland, and later Jackie and Jennifer did as well.
All four of us have spent years living away. Jackie and Scott eventually made their home “back on the rock”. But the cottage on the point is still the special place where we all “come home”. Knowing Dad, that was part of his vision.
Even though its quality isn't great, I want to share this picture of Mom and Dad standing in front of the little cabin.
Twice a teacher and always a writer, Josette Kenny Abruzzini is a native Newfoundlander and a current Pennsylvanian. As a child she wrote letters to her favorite aunts. As a teacher she enjoyed writing report card comments and letters to parents. In time she realized her love for writing about Newfoundland and anything else that caught her curious eye.
Visit Josette’s webpage at https://www.josetteabruzzini.com/ ,
her blog at https://www.josetteabruzzini.com/blog-1 ,
or her Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/JosetteAbruzzini/
Thanks for reading!