(Carolyn's note: The Cabin Chronicles is an ongoing feature on my life growing up in the Northwoods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Each week I will be posting several new chapters on stories that will surprise you, stun you, and hopefully make you laugh and cry! To read past chapters, go to the heading entitled Blog on the top bar of tswails.com and click on the Cabin Chronicles. Hope you enjoy!)
The order of lumber was coming up short. Staring at the pile of lumber, dad knew there wasn’t enough to finish the project. He would have to order more. If he suspected anything, he wasn’t saying. Instead he gave a quick shake of his head, and went to work framing the cookhouse. My brother and I joined him. We were best at fetching nails, scooping up the fallen ones, and handing hammers up the ladder.
It was slow progress and by evening a skeleton frame had been erected. Dad was exhausted and went to bed early. We all did. Staying up late meant keeping lights on which in turn meant running the generator which cost money. There were wall sconces built to hold kerosene lamps, but they didn’t put out much light. We did have a television, but only two channels available. Plus you really had to work the rabbit ears to get reception.
Mornings were slow. Normally we tumbled out of bed one at a time. Mom was always the first one up, starting the coffee pot, and stepping outside to commune with the chipmunks. She had them tamed. They adored her. When mom appeared the chipmunks scooted over to snatch a sunflower seed from her hand.
Inside dad drank his coffee, and guarded his bowl of cereal from the cats. They were allowed the last dredges of milk, but were not especially patient about it.
That morning though, the breakfast routine was sped up because dad was anxious to work on the cookhouse. Keeping stride with him, we crossed the yard. Even from a distance, it was evident something was wrong. The pile of lumber had again mysteriously shrunk. It was indisputable. Dad stood and mutely stared. My brother and I buzzed around exclaiming about the disappearance, but dad wouldn’t share his views.
He set about working on the cookhouse as if nothing had happened. I was beside myself. Disappearing lumber. Imagine! As a diehard fan of Nancy Drew (we had the entire box set at the cabin), I wanted to throw myself wholeheartedly into the investigation. But there was no encouragement from dad. He simply ordered more lumber. That afternoon, he hitched up the trailer and headed into town. This time alone.
That night after everyone had gone to bed, I heard dad get up. The bed next door creaked every so slightly giving him away. I was instantly wide awake. The pile of lumber was stacked just beyond my bedroom window. To get a clear view, I had to creep down from the bunkbed. On a moonless night the north woods can be so dark; the black swallows you up. But on this night, the moon was a quarter full. I could pick out the shapes of trees and see the outline of the woodpile.
Climbing down without being noticed was a challenge. I had to pass by my sister (in the middle bunk) and my brother (on the bottom). But after a few minutes, and moving in slow motion, I dropped to the floor.
With a thud.
I stood stock still. All senses sounding an alarm. I had heard my sister move. She had woken up.
""Whaddya doing?" she murmured from her bunk.
"Nothing, just going to the bathroom," I whispered back.
Silence. She had apparently gone right back to sleep.
The cabin was essentially divided into two parts. The front of the cabin was one large room with cathedral ceilings. The kitchen, dining area, and living room all flowed seamlessly together. From the kitchen a small hallway doglegged left allowing passage to the two small bedrooms and bathroom.