by Rick Brown
March 2, 2007, 7:10 p.m.
been a little while since we visited our friends Don and Cindy’s
charming wooded getaway Summit
Haven Retreat in the Hocking Hills of Ohio. We’ve always
had a wonderfully relaxing stay there. And the piece de resistance
is that we get to bring our French Boy Henri. So when we realized
the 35th anniversary of our first date was coming up (our personally
delayed Valentine’s Day) we could think of no more romantic
place to celebrate. So we booked the big cabin for three nights.
One of which we invited friends Joe and Anita to join us on.
The drive south from Columbus used
to take more than an hour. But with the completion of the Lancaster
by-pass…and I have nothing against Lancaster really…it
took us less than an hour. Of course once you turn on to Wildcat
Road…an aptly named narrow country road…the adventure
begins. Wildcat (Are there REALLY wildcats in Ohio? I’ve
lived here all my life and found the only “wildness”
has to be of one’s own making.) Soon becomes a road only
in name. And once you see the sign for Summit Haven Retreat and
turn…let’s just say it’s best you have a 4-wheel
drive vehicle with plenty of clearance…especially this time
Upon reaching the pinnacle of the
summit, Yvonne, Henri and I were confronted by a parked Chevy
Blazer obstructing our path to the cabin. Upon further gaze it
became obvious that a downed tree of considerable magnitude blocked
the lane. While today was a sunshine and fluffy clouds affair
with temps in the 50’s…the wind was…well March
like. Remember learning about kites in grade school…and
how March was the perfect month to fly them? While generally that
is pure unadulterated B.S. this day fit the stereotype perfectly.
Not long after cutting the engine
on our trusty Cherokee a figure emerged on the horizon. To our
glee it was none other than Don’s son and caretaker Scott
wielding a more than substantial chainsaw. And after friendly
salutations and some small talk he went to work clearing our path.
I had wanted to document his heroism with a picture of him and
his weapon of mass destruction. But since we bring everything
with us to keep from leaving this nirvana unless we have to, by
the time we got the car unloaded, he had vanished to his abode
over the rise.
Already we have enjoyed the solitude,
a fire, the view, and a dip in the hot tub. We’ve exchanged
small gifts of love and toasted ourselves with cold Harp beer.
On my final trip outdoors for firewood…with the eventual
pleading with the dog to come inside (Hey! I miss my yard and
the smells out here! Well…you wouldn’t understand.)…I
noticed what seems to be a full moon in the late winter sky.
March 3, 2007, 1205 p.m.
Drove into Logan for a New York Times
and various other sundries late this morning. This is one of my
favorite moments while staying at Summit Haven. It’s not
so much I’m enamored by the town itself…it’s
okay. It’s the quiet drive along rolling hills on seemingly
dangerous roads that I relish. That…and the fact that while
Ohio might not be wild…it is definitely friendly. People
wave at you. At first I thought it was because I was yielding
like a local on the narrow byways. But at the first crest of Wildcat
Road Good Old Guy I Do Not Know waved enthusiastically my way
while Dog I Have Yet To Pet wagged his tail exuberantly at the
sight of me. Same for Another Guy I Do Not Know and Unfamiliar
Three Legged Hound who was happily hobbling at his master’s
March 4, 2007 12.12 p.m.
Anita and Joe arrived for a late
lunch about 1:30 yesterday. Along with their 40-pound Chocolate
Lab Minnie we relaxed in front of a blazing fire for a while.
Then it was off to take the dogs on a run. Up to this point Henri
and Minnie were staking out territory…working things out
so to speak. But once out in the woods both pooches bonded big
time. Henri seemed to be showing his young protégée
the ropes concerning “how far ahead” of her masters
might be acceptable. I’m always amazed how this little foofy
18-pound hound can hold his ground with bigger dogs…establish
himself as the Alpha even. And this afternoon was no exception.
Of course this being March both canines absorbed more than their
share of mud, sticks, and grime that comes with the joy of a dog
off the leash!
Once both animals were clean enough
to go inside, all six of us kicked back and watched the Ohio State
men’s’ basketball game. Yes there is TV here on the
summit. Just enough…with good enough rabbit eared reception…to
let you watch what you want given the limited selection.
During the game it began to get blustery
outside with sideways snow. March had come in like a lamb Friday
but immediately returned to its lion like posturing less than
24 hours later. What a fickle mistress March may be. No wonder
it’s when the Madness happens.
Yvonne and I made a delightful Greek
styled pasta with shrimp (see Food and Drink for the recipe) after
which everyone vegged out.
This morning Joe joined me on my drive into the relative civilization
of Logan, Ohio. And Minnie (Such a contrary name for a large creature.)
joined us on our adventure…even taking the initiative to
sit in Joe’s lap on the way into town. What a sight that
was! Fortunately she did decide the back of the Cherokee was a
suitable environment for her on the journey back. At the moment
everyone is doing his or her own thing…as we used to say
in the 60’s. But mostly we’re picking up sections
of the Sunday New York Times and digesting them at our own leisure.
My most favorite of Sunday afternoon endeavors.
Monday, March 5, 2007, 12:04 p.m.
Well…our celebration of number
35 is coming to a close. Minnie and Henri took the four humans
out for yet another walk yesterday afternoon. Another “Celebration
of Mud”…especially for puddle loving Minnie. But the
cabin owners are dog folks and have the foresight of providing
a lot of doggie towels. Anita and Joe…having many Labradors
through the years…had the wisdom to bring even more.
so after a late afternoon dinner of Yvonne’s scrumptious
mushroom risotto we bid farewell to our friends and their pup.
As expected Henri moved into his “I’m so glad to be
the king again but…hey…where is that new friend of
mine? The one who annoys me yet I want to be around…mostly…sort
of…yes.” mood. Yvonne, Henri and I enjoyed a quiet
Sunday evening of unspoken family. Without the rambunctious play
of two dogs vying for attention, chew toys, et al…the company
and conversation of good friends…I again notice what inevitably
draws us back to this weekend utopia. The blessed silence.