We had time constraints slapped on this year's Manitoba trip. What they call a window of opportunity. At one end was work to be done at the cabin, at the other a family wedding. Wedding dates being permanent, our only flex in the front end, working our asses off at the cabin. We live a semi-primitive life up there in the woods. These days what's commonly called a cabin is usually somewhere between two and five thousand square feet with Internet access. Ours is on the order of a thousand feet and has outdoor plumbing. We pump our water from a well and do our business in an outhouse. And it was the outhouse where my work was to begin.
Our original two-holer had sprung a few leaks and also become a home for some nighttime vermin we never saw but seemed to have a fondness for gnawing holes in pine and fir. At the moment the new building was close to done but required a few finishing touches on the bench. No doubt when you're thinking of outhouses you're not thinking of ours. This one is open to the breezes at the peaks, is sided in rough-sawn cedar, has a red steel roof, and inside you'll find decoupaged walls and ceiling, a trim Formica bench with toilet seats, an oak floor, and, my task for Friday evening, facing the bench with tongue and groove oak. Yes sir, it's a nice crapper.
While I was on my knees in the john, Allan was up at the new shed nailing cedar to the plywood walls. The building's twelve-by-twenty-four feet and our board siding called for a fair amount of sawing and nailing. Come Saturday, while Al continued to hammer away, I'd start on fabricating a pair of five-by-seven foot doors to hang on the front. Our lumber came from Pine River but the fabrication and design was up there, as my fictional Uncle Emil would say, floating Between Thought and the Treetops (not a bad title for a book). Our fifth hand in the operation was Allan's mother and my wife, Lois. She fueled us, offered thoughtful advice, and was there whenever we needed help.
As it turned out the weather cooperated, the three of us put in twelve hour days, and by Sunday evening what we'd come to do was done. Even looked good. Six a.m. Monday found us at the end of the gravel turning north with intentions of grabbing breakfast on the fly in Walker, Minnesota. As we accelerated up the state highway I watched Lois slowly disappear in the rear view mirror. Leaving Lois has always been painful for me ever since the day we said goodbye at the Twin Cities airport and I boarded the plane for Basic Training. However, heading north on a fishing trip was a whole lot better than leaving to get ready for war.