Chapter Five

New Family

Approaching fast was spring, soon winter and those high mounds of snow with Huskies burrowed in them or under the log mansion at night, to shield from the various brutal temperatures, sometimes reaching minus 50-60 Fahrenheit, would be gone, save the dogs of course…I don’t recall much of playing outside, that first winter, probably because it was too dangerous for me at this tender age. Back then kids weren’t just dressed up in flimsy outfits and thrown out the door to get rid of them for the day, it would take quite some time to dress a young-un to go play in the deep snow, especially when it was at least minus 25-30 at best out, which was often. If you didn’t, you’d face a frozen limb or toe or finger. Something you would not want, especially if you had to be the one to amputate it. Going off on a limb here, sorry, but true.

The new home was confusing, no light switches to play with, no cozy toilet to sit on, in fact, us young-uns had to use a bucket known then as a ‘potty’, and probably quite different from the average potty most aged readers would remember if they had or used one in them years. The older youngsters, ages 5 or better would have to grab a night lantern, made of metal, containing a storm glass, a wick and coil oil in it and fire it up for the trek. The trekker would flip the rounded storm glass up with a lever, light the wick, drop the glass back down, and then off up the trail about 700 feet or so, almost a quarter kilometer through the snow and cold to the giant two-seater out-house, we’ll call it the ‘Throne’, how quaint huh?

During summer and early fall, the glow of the evening sun bouncing off the ocean and across the thousands of miles inland, along with earth’s moon, would provide enough light even till well after midnight or further close to dawn, and those storm lanterns weren’t needed as such at these times of the year. When you grow up in the wilderness and you somewhat develop ‘cat eyes’ as we called it, knew it and lived it, your vison becomes adjusted very well to all seasons, unless of course you suffer an unfortunate case of snow ‘blinding’, mentioned in another chapter. Yeah, the throne had two different sized holes to go poop through when you sat down, a bigger one for the old geezers and smaller for the young-uns. I remember my first daytime visit to that wood throne, I was terrified, and then when my bare bottom hit that ice chilled seat and my butt stuck to the icy wood, I wasn’t impressed, and mom got an ear full.

Well, you could guess, but this brings me to another short moment, hang in there with me…here we go, you got a second? This is funny in a way, but also a reminder how you should never frighten a young-un in play, especially in the dark.

Advancing about three years, think I was about 5-6, and I had to go poop, really bad, and it was after dark, one fall night. I was, by now, used to trekking to the throne by myself but hadn’t yet night-walked that big bad wolf, monster-infested pathway that all the others had teased me about, in fact, I knew I should never walk down it alone after dark!

I guess mom had decided it was time for her big boy to prove himself, or snap out of the scaredy-cat syndrome, and she handed me a storm lantern, all lit up and ready to go, “c’mon Kevin, you are a big boy now” … she coached me for no reason that would work. Any bravado that had existed in my little self, prior to this minute, was gone in a flash. But I pretended I was going to do this, replied ‘okay’ and started off to make the journey.

Not so far as I barely got about 400 feet to the start of the cut line, and stood there, frozen as I stared down that pathway as far as the lantern could shine, about 25-30 feet? I couldn’t take another step, I was so scared. Suddenly mom startled me with a shout “Go, Kevin, hurry, you are going to mess your pants!” I pleaded her to come with me, but she replied: “no Kevin, c’mon you can do it, I will watch you from here okay?”

I stood there for a bit, contemplating, pros and cons were not adding up here, but as always, I believed her, as I believed anything mom told me, of course. I started moving a couple feet more, and she kept calling out words of encouragement, couple more feet, now I was over halfway, and could see the dark silhouette of the throne standing out majestically in the partial moonlit background sky, up on that little hill. (You see, a deep pit had been dug, and that throne had been built upon that latter hill, so it would never get flooded, nor would the harsh stench emanate from it through the trees at ground level. Intelligence at its finest, shitty subject.)

Kevin was getting braver now, hey with that moonlight starting to come through, making the lantern almost useless, and my cat eyes starting to adjust, it didn’t seem so scary, and mom was keeping me encouraged and strengthening my every shaky step. But I was running out of time, and I could barely hold it anymore, yet I was persistent. I had to do this for mom, go to the throne all by myself at night, in the dark, didn’t matter that she was right there but a mere couple hundred feet away, with a bunch of shotguns, high powered rifles and more than 15 people in the log home PLUS a wolf pack of huskies laying around outside, it was scary, what if it got me? But, even though all the circumstances, I was contemplating running for that throne or else. Even in the dark…woe to me!

Moms supreme plan was destroyed seconds later, it was somewhat cruel fun, but an unintentional scarring of me for life, and has left me terrified of the dark, yeah if I can’t see things at night, in my bedroom, or wherever, and I suddenly wake up, its screaming time, or it use to be for many years. No wonder I couldn’t keep a GF for very long when I entered the dating scenes of the late 80’s early 90’s! The gals be like “WTF? Kev? You Okay?”…and I would think for a few minutes wondering why I had been woke up, then realizing my nightmare. Back to the story.

Suddenly, and of course without warning, this monster came thundering out from behind a tree cast in darkness and roared at me, my heart thudded, I felt those razor-sharp teeth sinking into my spine, my kidneys pounding in fright pain, and I messed my pants not right there in that spot, but as I started screaming and running back to the house for mom to save me. I wasn’t scared, I was terrified. Mom didn’t wait for me to arrive, she came on the rescue immediately, and grabbed me by the hand, of course, the only thing she could do, as by now I was way too heavy to be picked up, and she scolded hard the shadow that had teased me, it was one of the brothers.   “Why did you do that?” ..Mom cursed, sputtering in anger at the shadow. I couldn’t see who the monster was, but the reply giggling with “cause it was funny” ..that voice, my brother Jimmy. She scolded the shadow again, “I’ll show you funny with some hard chores tomorrow!”

Mom later tried to explain to me that I should have gone sooner, and this wouldn’t have happened, but I refused from that day forward to ever travel alone in the dark. As punishment, the older brother was made to be my guide for the rest of the year if I needed to go potty at night. I tortured him, it was fun going out after dark NOW, with an older one, even if I didn’t need to go potty, quite often at that!

…Now back to my first deep wilderness winter leaving us, it didn’t matter that I couldn’t play outside much, there were so many things to do, especially with the stepsisters and all, heck I was having a grand ole time, always being played with, so much, in fact, I would forget I had a mommy. I remember on occasion, mom would disappear for a few days, strange as it was, but there were always girls and older teens, and of course, brat boys around to keep me company and tuck me in at night. One day I caught mom floating back to shore in a canoe, with the stepfather at the stern, years later I would figure out they were going off to camp out away from the home occasionally. Oh well.

Confusing, right, wrong, demanding…so much fun! This new family I had been thrown into was …well… a nuthouse. But as all carnivals end, and pack up to leave, so would the entirety of my new-found happiness draw to a partial close. Sadness, losses, why do we suffer it I ask?


Chapter Six

Goodbye Brother

The next winter passed on much the same, save for an announcement that my first dad (mentioned at the beginning of the book, Soren) had somehow got engaged to, and here it is, my STEPSISTER Jenna!

She was twenty-nine years old, though, if I remember correctly, just like most of my stepfamily brothers and sisters we were temporarily living with were older, some much older than me.

Jenna was so nice, like mom, soft in her voice, and she always read me bedtime stories when mom wasn’t around in the earlier days as mentioned.

She was also a very skilled animal pelt skinner, and I use to watch her all the time. Jenna would grab that beaver pelt, wrought with many lbs of fat, needing to be fine skinned, and for an hour or so she would meticulously handle that razor sharp skinning blade, peeling away the obtrusive latter on each hide.

The boys would bring home the former days catch from the traps set out in vast numbers, adorning the many trails and streams and then everyone including the young-uns would start getting these pelts ready for market.

Each family member had their job to do, depending on their ages of course, like a military boot camp, you started somewhere and never stopped learning. More on the skinning later.

Back to Jenna, who owned a battery powered eight-track player, and a couple of latter tapes with music on them. I remember fondly, her playing Abba, the Swedish band, over and over, and I too have loved several of Abba’s tunes ever since, my favorite being the hit ‘Fernando’.

I remember Jenna’s mom had moved on to BC, Canada, and was preparing for everyone she gave birth to, to join her there except for Jenna and one younger son, of course, Jenna’s youngest brother Rupert.

Rupert would stay with us for awhile and become my new younger step-brother, it was exciting, now I could be the boss!

According to stories I heard, Jenna’s mom had cheated on my new stepfather (Edward) during the second world war, and he had found out not long after Rupert was born, and that is why THEY divorced, a bunch of ‘he said-she said’, was all it meant to me later in life.

Taking a step back, one day not to long after the third winter had passed, mom called me aside to talk to me along with big brother Jimmy. This was the same year my new stepbrother Rupert would take Jimmy’s place, so as not to confuse.

I stood there in silence for a moment while mom choked back for a second as she took my hand softly, and she had a couple of tears, she quickly wiped away, trying to brush off what was bothering her.

Mom was tough, but this was too much for her, and us two boys were silent as a pin under a haystack.

“Mom! What’s wrong?” I burbled, somehow deep down I knew something really bad was about to be brought forth onto my plate.

She closed her eyes for a second, wiping another tear away and sighed heavily. “Kevin, Jimmy, I want you both to know that I love you very much, and I don’t want to do this!” My brother Jimmy stepped forwards, placing a comforting hand on moms shoulder. “Do what mom? What?”

Jimmy, of course, knew full well something really serious was up, perhaps the worst possible thing that could have ever have happened to us. It was bad enough mom had already divorced Soren, and now we were living with a totally new family and all, I mean jeez what else could go wrong?

But also, the new family was fast disappearing too, all the stepsisters and stepbrothers except for Jenna and Rupert, gone in a matter of a couple summer months. I was running out of older people to bug for piggyback rides and cuddles and teasing, of course.

Mom took a deep breath and sighed again. “Boys, Jimmy has to go live with his new mommy!” And mom broke down, blurting out inaudible words of sorrow. I didn’t understand who this ‘New Mommy’ was, our mommy was right in front of us, sobbing, her precious heart, breaking in two, no let me say three, poor woman.

Big brother and I remained quiet, mommy was hurting inside really bad, we knew that, but I don’t think even Jimmy, although older than me caught on to what she had just tried to explain.

Brother finally broke the silence…” what do you mean, mom?” Mom sobbed a bit more and then seemed to go a bit cold, or else she had forced herself to get this all out in the open and done with now, the latter probably being prevalent.

“Jimmy, you have to go live with your dad (Soren) and Jenna, Jenna will be your new mommy ok?

My world stopped, nothing made sense, especially when Jimmy yelled “YES! YEEESSS!!”

At the very moment of his gleeful yells, my little heart sank, to the bottom of nowhere, for even as young as I was, it was clear to me that he was leaving my little comfort zone and world, for good.

Of course, still very confused a bit, I replied, “but mom, what about us playing together?” What about me? Who is going to be MY mommy?!”

And I literally, as I remember, stood there in shock, as if she was going to say “and YOU are going to live with some new mommy too”!

But of course, that didn’t happen, mom curled her warm loving arms around me and replied gently, soothing my vexed little soul…

“Kevin, you are mine, all mine, and you will always stay with me forever! Don’t you worry, Jimmy will be living close by and you can still play together every day!”

Jimmy seemed to handle all this and was smiling away and all joyful and he supported mom’s words with more encouragement.

“Ya, and we can have sleepovers Kev!” I asked him what a ‘sleepover was’, in my little world we all slept in the same big log home, sharing big beds and blankets and this ‘sleepover’ thing was new, yet very interesting the way he explained it.

Well, I couldn’t think of any more questions at this point, safe to say I felt rest assured that nothing had just gone wrong. I couldn’t be farther from the truth, even if I didn’t understand or know it then.

Life carried on, gradually as mentioned, my stepsisters, three of the seven remaining ones had received the beckoning call to move to BC to join their mother.

On a side note, with those girls being around all the time, and my little step brother Rupert who was two years younger than me, I didn’t notice that Jimmy wasn’t coming around to play much. It was all a master plan to separate us boys from each other for good, because of the tensions between the parents, I believe.

Soren had built a log home a quarter kilometer or so away from my mansion, for him and Jenna, and my brother Jimmy, but they didn’t live more than maybe 3-4 years in it. The news came that Jenna was going to have a baby and my some-what niece Lily-Anna was born a few months later. I even changed her diapers and hand washed them in the river a few times, haven’t seen her since.

Eventually, Jimmy was moved away to another trapline up the river, over 7 miles away, and that home sat quiet and unused forever and more. I do recall other happenings surrounding that home before they moved away, but these points are covered in some other chapters.

…But wait, I’ll give you one of the short tales now, as a memory just popped up about the latter, and I’ll spill it before I go start another chapter…

I somewhat hated that home that Soren had built for his new wife, my stepsister of all things, because it had separated Jimmy and me for good, and nothing would change that. Those ‘sleepovers’ I was looking forward to, never materialized. That turned out to be a ‘foolish’ idea for ‘babies’ according to Soren and Edward. There was ‘no damn need’ for sleepovers and that is where the ‘sleepover’ notion was left forever, just another memory of several disappointments I would go through.

This was one of the kinder disappointments, compared to what would happen later in life. But anyways, one-day mom sent me over to help Soren and Jimmy haul some logs through the bushes and deep snowy terrain, to be cut up for firewood, although I thought I was going over to play with Jimmy on our toboggans or whatever.

It was an act for me to have something to do, I was bored, and mom sent me over to see if I could be of help, mostly in part of course that I wanted to play with Jimmy, as by now there was no one else around, what with all the stepsisters and brothers gone.

I remember setting out on foot all happy and gleeful because it wasn’t every day that I was allowed to go over to Jimmy’s place, of course, there were rules and chores that came first, and most of the time when I’d ask to go, the answer would be ‘no, it’s too late in the day’…or something of an excuse. More and more as time went on I stopped even asking as it became apparent I wasn’t welcome too often down there.

Anyways, when I got to Jimmy’s home on this particular day, Soren put me to work, he and Jimmy were hauling some cut trees from the back 40 through the deep snow and of course instead of playtime, it was work time.

Heck, I had just finished all my chores at home, filling the two wood boxes in the home and carting water up from the frozen river to fill our water barrel.

Soren had a fire going outside the home to warm up to, as he worked, I guess and I loved outdoor wood fires, so after exhausting myself for a couple of more hours helping out, I hung out for a bit afterwards and watched him cut up some logs for the wood box in the home.

Jimmy was tired, and he didn’t want to play or hang outside after all the hours of hard work and said “I am going in” and he was gone inside for the day.

I was dismayed after a few minutes and knocked on the door and Jenna came to the latter and told me Jimmy was going to have a nap and I couldn’t play inside.

Kevin was so disappointed, but oh well back to the fire with Soren.
I was watching the glorious cackling, crackling flames, bright blue and amber-orange dancing to and fro in the fire pit. It was an awesome bush type fire, any outdoorsman would approve, about twenty-five feet in circumference, absolutely the best scene to have at minus 20 I think it was.

I spotted a grilling rod, it was a steel rebar thingy with grooves on it or something that was glowing red hot at one end in the fire, the other end sticking out at reach, ready for the grabbing. I think it was a fire-poker stick made of steel, that Soren would have collected somewhere, maybe off the train tracks a few miles away.

I remember Soren cutting up a few last blocks of wood, shutting the chainsaw off and then blowing out his snotty nose into the snowbank. One finger handkerchief!

Anyways, he came over to the fire abruptly and grabbed that poker stick, stirred up some embers, rolled a couple of wayward burning pieces back into the pit, and set the rod back down.

I was marveled! I loved Soren, my former daddy, and missed him so much, I didn’t have any bad feelings for him, he wasn’t cruel to me, and I just wanted his affection.

Part of that attention seeking prompted me to ask him right after he’d set that iron rod down…

“is that hot?” ..I asked sincerely, yet I think he believed I was just playing around.

Now, may God rest his soul, and I hereby declare I have no anger because of what happened next, I still miss him, and it has been over 35 years since I last seen him. More on that in another chapter. Much later, so don’t search for it anytime soon!

Anyways, he looked at me kind of silly like and replied “Gee, I don’t know, why don’t you pick it up and see for yourself?”

I thought about it for a second, not remotely understanding or realizing he had been wearing gloves this whole time and I reached out and grabbed that poker stick.

To this day, I still have the searing scars in my left hand, where that rod instantly branded me with the riffles on it. I screamed in pain, and he looked at me and yelled: “what the hell did you do that for?”

Soren, I believe, was dumbfounded that I had grabbed the poker stick. My poor left hand, mom even tried putting margarine on it, to give it an oil base and soften the burnt skin, but it was fried, I suffered immense pain for many days.

Mom blew up at Soren that evening and well, you can imagine. Of course, he didn’t think I would pick it up, and of course, he was a bit overwhelmed and tired from all the hard work that day prior to the event.

I am sure and fully convinced to this day, that he probably made that hasty remark to me RE “why don’t you pick it up?”, as a sort of ‘think about it’ to me.

It wasn’t much longer after this, maybe a few months or a year later that they moved away to the other trapline as mentioned earlier, taking the only human play-friend I had, Jimmy, with them. To this day I would take another burn just to have my daddy I lost in that former divorce.

There are a couple of more tales with Soren, Jenna, and Jimmy in them, so we won’t say goodbye yet. Time for tea and cookies, Seeya in Chapter seven.


Chapter Seven

Goodbye New Brother

A very short yet powerful chapter, and important section of my journal.

Jimmy and I saw each other less and less as the months flew by after that iron rod episode. My New stepbrother Rupert, was my best friend now, we played and had a normal relationship any children should be afforded.

I remember horsing around, playing with whatever, we could find amusing, and usually outside of the home. This new relationship would last for about a year, and then suddenly Dejavou played its hand, and without notice, that dreadful mom and son meeting would take place once again, as if I hadn’t been through enough.

Anyways, on this special occasion, mom called me and Rupert up to have a talk. This talk was almost a recorded repeat of when Jimmy was to move away. And of course, again, mom was all tears and such…

Rupert was to leave and go live with his real mom in BC. Here again, I was to lose my only playmate, never mind new stepbrother, well, guess that leaves me alone, with mom, and that stepfather Edward.

Kevin started feeling so confused, so lost, so alone, so out of place with myself, age about going on 7, I believe I was. Sometimes I would walk down to the river bank in that summer and just sit there staring at the rippling water, thinking, deep, deeper than a child should have to, wondering who or what was out there, or why everyone was gone.

No one really thought good and hard about that little boy’s future, being torn apart inside, although I believe Mom, God rest her soul, probably thought it was for the best, but also by now she didn’t have many choices to do anything else for me.

She was married to a fur trapper that refused any outside local events, like me going to a school and having communion with other kids, and mom having woman friends to associate with, well you get the idea.

Edward was a somewhat recluse, maybe hermit-like, that had his own doctrine of how the world should be, and everyone outside of our log home was a buffoon and idiot, but they didn’t know he spoke such ways. Only mom and I had to listen to it all the time.

Yes, Edward fought in the second world war and had good intentions to keep us safe from the outside trash and all its evils. But he went too far. There was nothing wrong with most of his morals or all of his wilderness survival tactics, in fact, he was a very brilliant man as you will get to know more of him in other chapters.

Sadly, however, deep inside he had a burning hatred that would start showing in unintentional and also intentional ways, very harmful, and we’ll see that later on.

…Back to mom, Rupert, and me, discussing how I should accept the fact that Rupert was leaving us now too.

I remember falling asleep after whispering back and forth under the blankets about what we were going to do about this whole situation.

Boy! Did WE have plans to stop the world from turning! But as our luck would have it, the world was about to turn upside down on us instead and snuff our plans out like a candle in the wind.

Sleep time came fast, it was so strangely hushed, usually, you’d hear mom and Edward gabbling down below under the floor, but not tonight.

There was no clue that in the morning I would wake up and find an empty sleeping spot next to me that was Rupert’s. His warm area on the mattress next to me and his pillow was all that remained.

I must have woken up within a short half hour or so of his departure, and I remember jumping out of bed thinking it was breakfast time and clambered downstairs to join little brother for a bowl of yummy porridge with brown sugar melted all over it.

There was no porridge, Rupert was gone, he had been snuck away in the morning by Edward, to boat up the river and meet the train that would take him away from me forever, to BC.

Mom was sitting there, crying softly into a towel. Then it hit me. I hugged mom till she was done. It was over, mom and I were now best friends, and she drove her love into me every day, we knitted, we sewed, we baked, we did everything.

I have never seen Rupert again, nor heard from him. Obviously, this was just a chapter of continuance to the story that I had to get off my list.

As always, I reflect on my past emotions, feeling and commotions. In my deepest heart, I fully remember him as a mild-mannered, good boy, and he was so loving and warm to me.

That’s all I know and remember of Rupert, and I cannot be any more descriptive than I am at this minute, case and chapter closed with a last but not least comment.

Here I am now, all alone, ready to begin my young life as the sole child in the area, with only my team of huskies, a couple of cats and the birds in the trees to play with, for about another eight years or so. Imagine if you will…


Chapter Eight

Spring Cruising

One frosty, yet cloudless, brisk morning, and to mention brisk is an understatement because it was so beautiful, the sun was just peaking the crest of the east, the globe of gold slowly rising over the distant treetops of giant poplars adorning the swamp and riverbank, with spruce, and pines setting a background finalizing it in a glorious heavenly painting.

Having just reached 8 years old I believe, I came down to some bellowing of ‘hot chocolate’…hot chocolate meant cocoa, over carnation, boiled quickly to perfection on the wood stove, dash of sugar and some thirsty morning lips.

I still remember well, those frozen window panes, little frosty crystals adorning the frame on all four sides, yet even in the center I could see some light, and when I stuck my nose and face up to the pane, wiping it see-through clear, I could view the jaw-dropping scenery right outside the window, and beyond to those latter treetops in the distance.

Forgive me for going on, it was so beautiful, the crystal-clear air, the snow-covered landscape, looked so inviting, I could taste it. Oh, speaking of, I tasted the frosty glass, just in case you need a good laugh or chuckle, and it was yucky. Ewe, gross. Just a kid though!

Strange, but for some reason, I felt like I had just been born, like everything was brand new and there was a God waiting for me to run outside, in my pajamas!

Mom suddenly cackled behind me, ‘get your tongue off the window, Kevin!’ So I didn’t run outside, I turned and sat down to slurp my delicious mug of hot, velvety cocoa.

After a breakfast of thickly sliced bacon, ripped from a slab of uncured pork side, along with two giant partially deep fried to perfection eggs in the latter grease, and some stovetop toast, of course over an open cast iron surface…I was filled for the day and ready to get scouting.

Mom dressed me up, rather tossed layers of garments at me along with instructions, I remember so vividly, the moccasins she had painstakingly made for me the weeks before.

On would go five pairs of extra thick wool socks, and the moccasin top leg flaps wrapped around them and tied back with the leather holdings or straps as you may call it. Boy, could I ever run fast in these lightweight none restricting outdoor slippers!

Time and again people would ask me through the years, ‘weren’t you afraid to poke a stick through your feet?’ or ‘ weren’t you afraid to hurt yourself in those?’ And my answer is the same now as then. In the wilderness, you learn to keep your eyes, your ears open and your mouth shut. Pay attention where you are going and you won’t get hurt.

Too many variables to go on but you get the idea. I chopped trees and wood and kindling for years, swinging a razor-sharp ax here and there and never hit my moccasin-clad feet, ever. As a kid, I was a man, with survival instincts bred into me.

Back to the story! …Sometimes getting ready to go outside was like a day and a half, especially when it was play time, but in reality, it DID take at least probably a good 20 minutes to dress up for the harsh cold.

Today, I left that morning glory doorway, out onto the most glamorous walkway, a child could imagine. This particular morning, I discovered the snow was crusty, very hard and a bit slippery here and there, like an ice rink with pebbles in it.

No, I couldn’t play in the soft powder as usual, and lucky for me I didn’t try to dive in it at first, as was the norm many times, probably would have broken my neck!

It was a new occasion for me, the weather transition patterns were starting to come into effect, and a few inches deep of the snow surface had become softened, damp if you will, from the spring temperature warmup the day before, and now at around minus 10 or so this morning, it was frozen solid.

This meant an incredible freedom, my chance to explore strange places, I was awed by it all, immensely stunned, no one had told me of this. Just a couple of days ago I had been diving into fluffy snowbanks, throwing puffs and shovels of snow at the Huskies, and what child afforded the chance, can resist designing a snow angel right?

Magically, the entire snow-laden forest floor had become a transportation carpet, so hard and deep, that one could spend a couple hours exploring the farthest places beyond the homestead. The toughest, intelligent, full-grown man would not venture into those sections of land at best of seasons. Trust me, the peak of winter months was, for the most part, NOT a best of seasons!

We are talking deep back swamp areas, in summer, that would be wrought with sludgy moss and mud, treacherous holes with unknown depths, probably guessing at 4 feet deep or more, willows and overgrowth of bushes and such, and then we won’t talk about the murderous bugs that would attack and try to suck every ounce of blood from you.

I didn’t believe my foot holding or understand it at first, I took a few steps down that steep hill on the east side of our log home, I mean, no one would be able to single legged, trek that hill easily, since at best during the fierce mid-winters it would be at least 10-12 feet deep with soft powder snow.

Trying it many times, winter after winter, as I got older, the only thing that happened was exhaustion. It became an addiction! A glee filled trip each time, as I would get bogged down and just give up most of the time and lay there in a powdery swath of demise. Terrible fun.

…Okay, slowly and with caution, I ventured down that hill, testing every step, and after I had realized that my feet were not sinking, I started running across the lower bottom of the latter.

It was my first-hand time finding out that the spring crust could hold my weight, and let me have the freedom of my spirit to wander wherever I wanted.

My spirit took advantage of beyond the wildest play dreams a child could have. I coasted everywhere, down the hill in front of our home, across that river running at the speed of light, and within minutes I was trotting around that forbidden swamp area.

The things I saw, there were beautiful little chickadees, twittering and chirping and wow, a rabbit went zooming by, probably terrified of me. I never saw birds like these before, because they only look for low key feeding areas in deep winter, and I was in the garden patch. Nor had I ever seen a live rabbit up close, only dead and ready to skin and prepare for food.

Even Whiskey Jacks and such came to have a look at this silly human, loafing around, twittering coarse crackly sounds, and chipmunks, squirrels were squawking and giving signals that I was not welcome in this realm! The frozen swamp land was alive, and I wasn’t welcome.

Far off in the distance, I could hear a woodpecker drilling away, the echo floating through the air mesmerizing me. There was no forest of large trees in this swamp across the river from our home, it was made up of willows and little cedar bushings, about 6 or so feet in height.

I remember running too far back, losing sight of home and deep into this amazing new territory I had discovered, and suddenly found myself wondering where I was. I looked at the surface for my footprints, something that had been taught to me, to trace my way back. You know the answer right?

Anyways, since there were no footprints, I decided to climb one of those taller cedar trees and have a look around. Of course, to the north in plain sight was the smoke billowing out of our chimney. Not so far lost now!

Keeping that in my head, I ran around for a couple more hours, clambering up the odd bush now and then to spot-check my location, but my luck was running out, very quickly.

Suddenly I began realizing with some slight disappointment, that my moccasin adorned feet were starting to sink into the jeweled frozen crust.

My luck was running out, yes, it was warming up and I was starting to sink here and there. The carpeted paved forest floor was softening up quickly.

I didn’t care during the first 20 or so minutes, but after a while when finally, the crust gave in and I sank up to my knees on one leg at a time, over and over, I realized I had better get back home. I mean, after all my frolicking fun, it was almost noon, the sun was high and temperatures were climbing fast.

If you have never done this, you have no idea of freedom a child can feel, I mean metaphorically speaking, of course. Not everyone in the world would experience such as I did.

I can not count the days, but I know with each new year I took advantage of the spring crust, it was so amazing and it is what inspired me to write this chapter.

I remember, on many occasions, kicking a bit of that frozen white pie up, quite often actually, and grabbing it, biting down on it…sometimes I would cut my gums on it, bleed all over it and didn’t care. The exhilarating clear crystals of miniature water icicle slivers inside were just divine.

Well, unless you have tried it, the reader won’t believe, but that pebbled chunk of crystal iced beauty was so refreshing, I would usually crunch it all…lock, stock and block of it, many times.

I would look sometimes at the formations, and break apart the chunks, just to discover the insides. This was just one of the many ways one could find themselves awestruck as a child, discovering new things each year, not just by this crust, but different nature findings.

As a child by myself, alone and learning in the deep woods, distant from other kids, I spent many a time thinking about whatever could allow me safe adventures or self-entertainment if you will.

By the end of the day, I was usually never disappointed, I always had been satisfied, be it from my own adventures or otherwise. Nothing wrong with that. As long as you could have other kids to interact with once in a while.

And unless you grow up thinking you are it, just you.

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