Starting the stay
Dick MacKenzie - www.dickshideaway.com
Many years ago I met Fred Gamble out in the middle of Abram Lake. Fred was an old man at that time, a lifelong Sioux Lookouter, outdoorsman, bachelor, and a good friend of mine. He was boating out for a few hours of fishing. I was heading to town after cleaning a cabin after departing guests. We hailed each other down for a friendly boatside chat.
"Do you like bacon?" I asked, and passed over five pounds of goodness to Fred.
The astonishment grew as I handed over several dozen eggs, a few pounds of potatoes, and two bags of flour as well.
I can still hear Fred's chuckle some years later as he related that experience to others. "It's the first time I've ever had a grocery delivery out in the middle of the lake."
He told of my guests, a doctor from Chicago who had never been to Canada and who had never been fishing, and his two sons who looked to be almost teenagers. They had scheduled a two week stay at my remote island outpost, the good doctor planning to quit smoking cigarettes and to calm down during the divorce he and his wife were going through.
We had no cell phones in those years so the only contact was with me during my routine check-ups every three days.
On my first visit the guests wanted to go home and asked me to take them to town.
When I returned later to clean the cabin it was spic and span. Only leftover groceries.
The boys had taken out 50 pounds of potatoes, 20 pounds of flour, 20 dozen eggs, and about 40 pounds of bacon. That's it. Two week's supply of food.
Being stranded on a remote island hoping the isolation would help heal the hurt of a soured romance, and force the end of the nicotine habit, is not the way to do it.
Sometimes I pack in a similar way to those guys. Mary, on the other hand, is as opposite as is possible. She has a sheet copied with every item we have ever taken to camp in the last 35 years. Nothing is ever deleted, even if we've only wanted it one time, but every new item is added on.
The list is extensive, and every item is either checked off or scratched out, every time we go to camp... which is nearly every week.
I never help pack the tubs and boxes. Used to, but everything absolutely has to be arranged perfectly. If I put a ketchup bottle in a wrong spot, all of a sudden the whole box has to be emptied out onto the kitchen floor and the whole works has to be redone, arranged painstakingly in the correct order, like a jigsaw puzzle.
Never mind an extra pair of clean socks in the cooler.
We do eventually get to where we're planning to be.
For this solo spring trip I was my own packer. Not knowing how long to plan for - somewhere between three and five weeks - made it easy to not worry about precision. Grace needs food. Some is at camp already. Throw in another bag.
We have a variety of stuff in the cupboards and the refrigerator. Most of it's still there because nobody likes it, but it'll do.
For myself, I packed five or six pounds of hamburger - I like ground beef and it is pretty versatile. I added a couple steaks, some chicken drumsticks, hotdogs, and special treats of pork roast and a whole chicken, both of which will be fun to smoke and cook, and will make several meals.
I brought a couple loaves of bread and can bake more in the dutch oven when needed. A little bag of potatoes and some onions and mushrooms for fancy dining.
We have noodles, rice, oatmeal already here... some ramen noodle soup packets, pancake mix, hamburger helper, cans of various things.
I brought quite a bit of wine (no scotch this trip, but we have part bottles of numerous liquors). It's not a drinking holiday, nor a gourmet retreat, but if I am ever hungry this time around something is wrong.
The two squirrels at the bird feeder are usually fair game. Grace loves to bound out the door, scare the hell out of them, and then chase them away. Until this trip I have encouraged that.
Now, I have one special box of taco flavored hamburger helper set aside at the back of one of the cupboards in case of emergency. And when the squirrels come to the feeder now I put my finger to my lips. "Shhh, Gracie. Let 'em eat all they want and grow big and fat. Maybe one day they'll fall into the pot and come out tasting like tacos."