Big Stone Sanctum
By Ronald Drobeck
On occasional Saturdays, I would see this little duck boat sort of a thing.
It looked like a pair hoods from old 40’s Plymouths or such, welded together in the middle so that it resembled a half a football, floating, sort of.
I was the head waterfront counselor at the Scout camp after I had been a C.I.T. (counselor in training) for a couple of years before that. I would be the only one at the cabin there on the weekends, because that week’s campers had all gone home, the new ones hadn’t arrived yet and the C.I.T. under me had either gone home for the weekend or the new one wasn’t there yet for his two weeks.
So, the little boat would only appear on Saturdays. Less noise.
I would see two knees, a fishing rod leaning over the side at an upward angle. Its fishing line hanging limp from the line guides, it’s hook, bait and bobber somewhere inside of the boat.
At each end a lanyard was tied to a tree branch that hung over the water allowing the boat to gently sway and rock on the water.
Always the same, I never saw ‘him’. I only saw knees, as his head and torso lay still, beneath the gunwales, napping I think in his tight little rocking crib.
I never made a sound or bothered him, for the knees looked like a workin’ man’s knees under those coverall pant legs!
I always figured it was the farmer to the south of Camp Iyataca, his one moment of peace each week. He may have told somebody he was going ‘fishing’. They, or I would never disturb him. What he wanted, and what he needed were very obvious to me.
Now, as the head scout at the waterfront, I had all sorts of canoes and boats at my disposal. It never occurred to me that I could do the same, until now fifty years later.
One time, feeling a little exhausted, and maybe a little weary from a bug or the 24/6’s I was doing, I did go into the supply tent across from my cabin, and lay down in the rescue stretcher one Saturday morning. You know, one of those ‘MASH’ stretchers that was chicken wire on a metal frame with a divider between the legs. In the five years I was at the camp, I think it was the only time it was used.
I did fall into a sound sleep, missed lunch, and woke up in the afternoon as the breeze was dying for the evening, as it usually did on Big Stone Lake. I awoke to the smell of the surplus army tent canvas preservative, and the musty smell of a lot of supply tent old stuff like 50 year old kapok, and hemp rope.
I awoke well rested, nobody missed me, and I felt like I had gotten away with something.
Every other week, I did drive into Milbank to see what was going on with my friends, grab a bag of assorted Schad’s stuff, and say hello to my mother if she was there. It was basically a loooooooong Schad’s run first of all. I needed a change from the Trojan stuff I was eating in camp. Then I’d go out to Ken’s Drive In to see if there were any hops that couldn’t live without me. There were none, but at least I had hopes! At least I ended up with a bag full of Schads, and a bag full of thirty five cent cheeseburgers.
If there was no dance in town, I’d head back to my shack on the waterfront.
Anyway, on Sundays, the guy would never be in his boat, I’d fish a little from the sand point to the left of the swimming area, cast a little from the swimming dock, then walk to the other end of the camp to the chow tent. I’d walk passed the new batch of campers arriving from the Arrowhead district. I’d prepare myself to be the evenings master of ceremonies at the ‘welcoming’ camp fire. On to another week of fun in the sun.
Then suddenly, my summers ended when I got too old to be a Boy Scout. The last afternoon, I drove away, not realizing that it was over.
I did take a lot of memories with me! There are many tales to tell with many witnesses! Ha! I’m thinkin’ there are people reading this that saw me there and know some of the tales.
But, the memory that drifts into my thoughts the most is when I am weary. The mind shot of the napping knees in the boat.
It has become my symbol of rest. I wanted to do that some days. Just away. Away from it all. I wouldn’t even want the fish to bother me! Just like him.
I have this vision! I had this vision today. I don’t know why! At my new age, I can fall asleep anywhere, anytime, and I do! When my eyes are closed, my dogs won’t even bother me. Sometimes I open them just enough to watch them make their ‘better not disturb’ decision just like I did fifty years ago. See, it’s nature at it’s finest. Do Not Disturb Sleeping Man!
I guess I get to take this vision with me in my forever collection! Just in case I need it again.