It was the last Friday in July. Coronavirus permitting, the children would be back in school in about a month. Jim Dandrich had racked his brain to think of a family outing that would not bring his family in close contact with anyone else, and he thought he had finally come up with one.
First he had to run it by Eulalie, his wife. She had heard of family trips in the past, and thought they sounded like great fun. "Your mother loved it when her family camped near Moosesteak Falls in Maine," she suggested. "'l'll bet it won't take much to coax Minny into coming along too -- that is, if that's the sort of thing you're thinking about. Your cousin Harry has a camp in that area, on a nice lake. He might not be using it when you want to go there. Why don't you ask him?"
Jim smiled, a broad grin from ear to ear. "You're a mind-reader, Eulalie," he said, kissing her. "I did, in fact, ask Harry this morning, and he won't be using the camp next week, and all he said was that we should beware of Simulium penobscotensis."
"That sounds like something g=dangerous and/or painful," Eulalie said, wincing.
"Painful yes, but probably not dangerous. It's a kind of black fly, and they are pretty awful this time of year."
"So, what does cousin Harry do to keep them away?" Eulalie said, wondering if this kind of expedition would be so great after all.
"Baby oil," Jim said. "Harry keeps lots of it in the main cabin. We'll be fine."
Bart and Chandler were excited about the chance to go camping. Getting out of Crepuscular Meadows was high on their list of priorities -- it was a pretty boring place for them this time of year.
Next, Jim asked Minny if she'd like to come along. Her only comment was that they'd need lots of blankets -- the nights got pretty cold in August, as she remembered from the 1960s.
"There will be blankets there," Jim soothed her, "but Summer in Maine is a bit warmer than it used to be. Oh, I forgot to ask Harry what kind of fish we'll be likely to catch."
Eulalie and the boys groaned in unison. Minny was just coming in the door, and she smiled at this. "You know, I don't think Harry has ever gone fishing in that lake," he observed. "He always had other things on is mind. Maybe we should, too. You know, I'll bet the Moosesteak Falls Chamber of Commerce has brochures about all the great things one could do in that area."
Bart and Chandler ducked into their room to go online and see what novelties the Moosesteak Falls area offered. It turned out that there were some fascinating grottoes and bat caves within a mile of Harry's cabin. Bear sightings were not uncommon three miles in another direction, and you could always encounter a moose.
"Yes, I'm sure you could," Eulalie said, laughing at this last tidbit of information. "They probably cross the road a lot, and all I can say is that I'm glad we got the brakes fixed last week."
It was a slow time at the bank. Jim easily got permission to take the next week off, despite the short notice. Actually, he had already asked for the week off months ago. The only thing he had neglected was lining up a place to go. That was now settled.
Other details remained to be ironed out. Should they leave Saturday? Sunday? Monday? Eulalie, who sometimes seemed like the only sensible person in the family, proposed leaving Sunday morning. They needed to ask the neighbors to keep an eye on the place while they were gone. They needed to ask the Post Office to hold their mail for them. Eulalie's book discussion group was on hiatus for the Summer, so she wouldn't need to tell the other readers. But Minny sometimes had dinner on Wednesday nights with Mrs. Mumble, so she needed to be told. Once You said anything to Mrs. Mumble, it was sure to get around. The woman was like the town crier in that respect.
"By Saturday night, I'm sure Peter Peters will be calling us up to talk about *his* camping trips in Maine," Minny said. "He's going to want to know what kind of fish we catch, and how large they were, when we get back...."
In many ways, Crepuscular Meadows was like a small town. If you happened to make a bad mistake, it could come back around and bite you in the butt very fast, but good things had a way of getting around just as fast.
It was looking as though this would be one of those good things.....