I want to start by giving a huge flaming finger to my audience which expects miracles I can’t provide so they can point out the platonic shadows while they freeze to death like a match girl.
Welcome to America 2010.
There was a time softened by the distance of memory when I rode north past Stockbridge Massachusetts in a red VW Microbus with circles and arrows and implements of destruction.
It was a dark and stormy (I miss him, I should look him up) night and we huddled under thin blankets I can still find since like most parsimonious New Englanders (and unlike profligate Washington new money) the Gilmores never throw anything away- including that red VW Microbus with circles and arrows and implements of destruction even after I crashed it into the back of someone’s car (my legs were on the other side) and the engine blew up (this actually happened twice, once while I was driving it and once while my Dad was. Hello Enfield coast to a stop or charging up a hill to a street named after a classmate who shat themselves in first grade).
But this wasn’t one of those bad nights and we only had to deal with the fact that you just can’t heat a red VW Microbus.
So it was pretty fucking COLD as we drove north to the Lake House and we hadn’t got our Christmas Tree yet so at the gas station we got the least pathetic one. I want to emphasise at this point that least means beyond Charlie Brown.
So we strapped that on the roof and trundled down to the Lake House and by trundled I mean that if Dad hadn’t jumped an Olympic 90 Meter ski hill we might have missed the driveway.
Which was blocked by a 9 foot snow drift, but when one of your gifts is a toboggan you can kind of make it to the door.
And call Skip the plow guy.
Who doesn’t actually dig you out so much as wade through the snow to tell you your pathetic tree sucks and the cranberry popcorn garland a waste of time.
“Let me fix that for you.”
Skip is mostly famous for surviving without a scratch a high speed collision into a bridge abutment so I don’t want you to get the impression he’s the most reliable guy but my Dad and I went off in his plow to his garage where he walked out the back at random and picked a tree and gave it a few wacks.
In New Hampshire this behavior is considered normal.
But it was undeniably a better tree (did I mention pathetic?) and we dragged the fresh kill back to our lair and after a wee cup o’ yuletide joy we were able to scoot Skip out.
Oh. It gets weirder.
I rescue the pathetic Charlie Brown Tree for my own because I’m a rank sentimentalist (hit the tissue twenty times just writing this) but my point is The Great Squirrel Hunt
Didn’t I tell you it got weirder?
We’d had bats in our chimneys and rafters but never a flying squirrel. This one dove out the fire place (now in fairness I must admit we had lighted a fire) for Skip’s tree trunk and ran up and down while I chased it out the porch door armed with oven gloves and a badminton racket.
I am a formidable opponent, especially with a badminton racket.
So I’m off to the Lake House again to sleep on Granddad’s narrow red leather couch and watch Sat TV protected from the cold by the very same red VW Microbus with circles and arrows and implements of destruction thin blankets and will use whatever excuses for tools I can cram on a CD that plugs into Mom’s laptop to stay in touch as best as I can.