Column, Mountain Meditation

Mountain Meditation: The grand unveiling, midnight surprise and floor show

Building our Killington dream lodge, part 6

When the power company man climbed a tree to connect wires to our basement ski lodge, Mom planned a party to celebrate the grand occasion for which we’d been waiting.

Mom selected a rectangular table with two benches she’d stashed in our house in Montclair, New Jersey. We squeezed them into our Country Squire, surrounded by other stuff for up north. We’d been dining at the round oak table in our makeshift Vermont back room kitchen, but with a new “dining room,” we covered the table with a colorful cloth and added a candle to top it off.

The sunset glowed through the picture windows as our two dinner guests arrived. The sun slowly set behind Pico Peak in its stunning pink and gold radiance. We “oohed and aahed” as we nibbled on celery sticks and crunchy carrots with Lipton onion soup dip that Mom made with cottage cheese blended with the onion soup mix.

As darkness fell, Mom lit the candle. Dad turned on the Coleman lantern. We fetched the cheeseburgers and baked beans that came in a can, but we doctored them up with mustard, maple, and garlic powder.

Mom turned around and announced, “Voilá!” All of a sudden, a string of lights brilliantly lit up the entire front room. We applauded. Mom smiled and bowed. What a luxury to see what we wolfed down.

“Please step outside,” Mom said next, so we put on our jackets and stepped into the darkness. Mom called out, “Ta-da!” In a flash, the path in the woods lit up with a string of yellow, red, green, and blue Christmas lights. They sparkled all the way to the outhouse.

We roared with laughter (above Roaring Brook) then returned inside to savor ice cream heaped on top of Entenmann’s cake, drowning in Mom’s “Ooh-la-la hot fudge sauce.” (Our ice cream stayed frozen in our old-fashioned ice box with a big block of ice that stayed frozen for days.)

With electricity installed, we hauled a used refrigerator up from New Jersey to Vermont. We placed it in our rustic kitchen to keep our food cold and safe from critters, or so I thought.

The next Friday night, we arrived late and hadn’t stopped for our midnight snack. Mom unpacked from our cooler cheese and bread for grilled cheese and condiments. As I opened our “new” refrigerator door and grasped the ketchup jar in my hand, a very cold mouse jumped out and ran. I screamed and dropped the glass jar on the floor. Ketchup and glass flew everywhere as the little culprit took off. As soon as we moved from our tent to the downstairs, word spread quickly in the field mouse community. They moved in and felt right at home. Every night, they performed a “floor show,” racing like Olympians along the tops of our cement walls. They were too fast to brush off or catch, which my folks urged us to do. At dinner one night when Ann Wallen was there, I held up the broom to give it a go. Just as a mouse headed my way, I dropped the broom and burst into tears. “I can’t hit the mice!” I cried. “They’re far too adorable.”

Marguerite Jill Dye is an artist and writer who divides her time between Killington and Bradenton, Florida.

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