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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tools of the trade...a remnant from a time before the fire.

I have mentioned before about fishing in Lake of the Woods, Ontario. The small island that we stay at used to have a central cabin where some of the most mouth watering fresh batter fried walleye and homemade cornbread always awaited us on our return from the day's fishing. The cook's name was Irene. She and her husband owned the Island and rented the 5 or so cabins on their 2 acre plot of paradise.

As a child and even into my early 20's I would marvel at their stories of how the surrounding waters would freeze in the winter and the only way to restock supplies was to travel by dogsled over the lake to nearby Nestor Falls about 9 miles away. To a Midwest boy...It was like listening to the Saturday afternoon adventure shows on TV.

In the Summer of 1969 while home from Purdue we returned to the island to find that the winter before, a grease fire had begun in the kitchen and with no water except under the foot thick frozen ice...the fire spread and burnt the kitchen cabin to the ground. With it went years of history...decades of work...and the pioneer spirit of Irene. Shortly after we returned home that Summer, Irene sold the island and moved to Minnesota to retire. The only physical reminders of those wonderful meals and adventure stories that remains unto this day are the few utensils that she used in her kitchen ... they survived the fire. They hang now on a wall in cabin 5. The current owner of the island loves to have someone ask about the utensils...it gives him a chance to recount the stories of Irene and her magnificent batter fried Walleye and homemade cornbread. As he walks to the center of the island to show where the kitchen once stood...he tells the story of the frigid Winter ... the day the cabin burnt.

Irene has long since passed but her name still is mentioned every year during the fishing season at least once or twice when the curious ask. The Walleye is still great, the cornbread still rocks...we now cook it ourselves...but it is just not as good as Irene's.

10 comments:

Anna said...

Do I see a potato masher, lol. Excellent composition. Take care, and have a good week. Anna :)

De Lly Dilettante said...

A good read and I like the way the utensils hang there... telling their own story. Thanks for sharing.

::She Poet:: said...

Dan, thanks for stopping by and your well wishes :) I enjoyed today's post, a wonderful yet sad depiction. The color and tone of the shot matches the dated quality of those utensils. This would be great for PPP. I'd be interested to see what kinds of stories/poems derive from this. Take care.

Dan Felstead said...

Anna...yes and that "masher" made some of the greatest garlic potatoes known to man!

Dan

Dan Felstead said...

Lly...They do tell the story of Irene's life...and she still lives with anyone who had the great luxury of dining in the old cabin.

Dan

Dan Felstead said...

Thanks Pura...Laura Jayne has access to my photos so maybe she will choose it one day.

Dan

Hazydaisy said...

I love both picture and story, Dan-very poignant but lovely that Irene's memory lives on!

Dan Felstead said...

HazyDaisy...thanks...she was something else! The island we always stayed at was nothing special...very small and fairly primitive but her cooking madeit seem like the Taj Mahal!

Dan

septembermom said...

Irene shared a treasure of stories. I can imagine your interest and excitement when she began to tell a tale. Great photo!

Dan Felstead said...

Septembermom...her stories of the ice and the winter in Canada and the hardships they went through actually spurred my interest in writing. Some folks can relate back to a teacher that spurred their interest...Irene did it for me.

Dan