The Flint Hill Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company is putting on a carnival this weekend. Our little fire department has been in business since 1954. One of the first jobs I ever had, when I was about 10 years old, was helping my brother, M.H., sand an old fire truck the company had gotten from somewhere. When he finished with it, it looked brand new.
For as long as I can remember, there has been a Flint Hill carnival. As the folks say, back in the day the Flint Hill carnival was the cat’s meow. Everybody came to the carnival. As you probably know, many of the fire departments in the county no longer have carnivals. This year, we are trying something a little different.
We are having a two-day carnival. There will be a parade tomorrow night (Friday, Aug. 2), starting at 6:45 p.m. Of course, there will be food and the bake stand will be open. There will also be barbecue dinners available and bingo and raffle tickets for cash prizes or a black Angus heifer. We are getting as many things as we can for the kids, like a moon bounce, a climbing wall, an obstacle course and wet and dry slides. And if you don’t like keeping the little ones up late, we are starting at 2 in the afternoon on Saturday and praying for some reasonable weather.
I sure hope you can make it out for awhile. There will be live music on Saturday by From The Heart. I am also told there will be a corn hole tournament starting about 2 on Saturday. For the unknowing, that is where you throw a bean bag at a slanted board with a hole in it. Just so you know. Enough foolishness. Please come out and support your local volunteers. One day, you may be real glad you did. Thanks.
I have on my computer a picture of a special place. It is far from here. In this picture there is a small campfire, built with rocks around it. The fire had mostly burned down to cinders and coals when the picture was taken, but a little waft of white smoke still drifts off to one side.
Across the top of the rocks is an old refrigerator shelf that works well for a grate. On top of the grate are several small packages, wrapped in aluminum foil, shiny side in, so the heat is not reflected back. Two packages contain fresh fish fillets, with a little butter and salt and pepper. Two packages have some potatoes, sliced, and again, with a little butter and salt and pepper. The final package has a couple slices of buttered bread.
Just in the left hand margin of the picture, I can see my brother-in-law’s hands, holding a cold beverage and watching the fire, as he sits and enjoys this special place. It is a very small island on a string of lakes, about five or six hours north of Toronto, Ontario.
To get through the string of lakes, you have to know where the cuts are — small water passages from one lake to another. Sometimes the cuts are only a few yards long; sometimes they are a lot farther. If you are lucky, the water is up enough so you can stay in your small boat and paddle or push through the cut into the next lake.
On this particular lake, once you get through the cut, there are a number of what I call table rocks. Some of them are rather flat on top, hence the name “table.” The bad thing about them is that the table top is anywhere from 10 to 20 inches under the surface of the water. The water here is clean, but very dark. Years ago, one of these rocks caught the bottom end of my little Johnson outboard, while I was in a hurry to get back to camp. We paddled the rest of the way back. Now, I know where the rocks are, and I go slow and watch for them.
From the island, I can see beaver, going about their chores. I hear loons, calling to their mates and watching over their little ones, and I watch them diving for minnows. Unlike most birds of flight, their bones are not hollow, but solid. This allows the loon to dive and chase his prey. Loons can almost fly through the water when they are submerged. But he pays a price for this when he wants to get airborne.
To get into the air, the loon literally runs across the top of the water like a mad man, his wings flapping to beat the band. And he needs a long runway to take off. You can also spot the loons in the air fairly easily. He is the one flapping his wings like a hummingbird. Poor thing, he looks as if he paused for a moment he would hit the ground like a rock. And he probably would.
This little island is a peaceful place. When you approach it, there is a deep hole of water, and a big rock coming straight up out of it. But if you go around to the other side, there is an easy place to pull the boat up so you can get out. The island is probably less than 50 yards long, but there are some nice evergreen trees here, and a small clearing with the campfire site.
I hope each one of you has or knows of a place like this. There are no telephones, no cell service, no computers, no radios and no TVs. There are no incessant talking heads telling you about the obstructionist Republicans and the tax-and-spend Democrats. And for a short time, you can forget all that noise, and just enjoy the call of the loon, and the splash of the beaver’s tail when he discovers he is being watched. I wish for you a place like this and time to enjoy it.