A Fire of One’s Own

Our 14 year-old is working on climbing all 46 of the Adirondack High Peaks that are 4,000 feet in elevation and higher, a noble goal that is known up here as “becoming a 46er,” but what this means, in effect, is that every time we come here, he begs either me or my husband to take him off on a very intense day hike so he can bag another one.

Today he somehow convinced my husband, who was already complaining mightily about his plantar fasciitis after our six mile hike yesterday, to take him on a ten mile hike up Dial Mountain so he can bag number 37.

And so they left early this morning, taking our water bottles, our maps, and, most significantly, our car, with them.

Were it not freezing with a high wind chill this wouldn’t matter much because there’s so many hikes we can do right here (which is, after all, the point, and the reason I’m so gamely putting up with the rusted fridge and a few other indignities).

But it is freezing, and though we are inspired by reports of a bald eagle sighting right here on the lake, and we get new maps and buy water bottles from Dr. Doolittle, when we return to the cottage after a hearty breakfast we lose all momentum.

Led by my 10 year-old daughter, we set out to make a fire in our big stone fireplace, something I have never attempted before. We burn dozens of sheets of newspaper and blow through nearly a whole box of matches before she sets out for help from the maintenance man, whoever that is, and arrives back home with Dr. Doolittle, who is apparently a jack of all trades.

Dr. Doolittle, who I learn is from Montana, builds us a fire quickly, and efficiently, while teaching us how to do it for ourselves.

Eventually the wind dies down, and we go out for a beautiful hike around the lake. And when we come home we finally do it — we build a fire of our own.