The End of the Castor Hilton

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Published on: Dec. 2, 1996

Last revision: Oct. 25, 2010

when the boys and I, covered with camouflage paint, were back in the hills turkey hunting, and the excitement when a big tom's gobbling call came out of the misty dawn.

Guess I'll always remember the time Bob and I had a four-foot black snake drop from a tree into our canoe as we floated the Castor. Back at the cabin my wife Ruth heard our shoveling, scraping and banging as we worked with paddles to get brother snake out of the boat and into the river. She didn't know how true it was when she said it sounded like we were killing snakes.

Those weekends when the weather began to warm in February and the sap flowed in the maple trees had us down there collecting sugar water and boiling it down until we had maple syrup. Wood smoke from the cooking fire and sugary steam from the pans penetrated hair and clothes and gave us all a ripe smell and a sticky texture. But no maple syrup ever tasted better. Besides, it was pretty much of a social event when we gathered for syrupin'.

There are lots more things I'll remember as I think about the cabin. But reminiscences are all that are left now. We have sold the Castor Hilton, so it appears that we'll be looking elsewhere for tomorrow's memories.

You hate to give the key that final turn, but times change and what one did before too often can't be done again.

Those hills have gotten mighty steep. So steep, in fact, that any tom turkey strutting and gobbling up there on the ridge is safe from me.

Wading the stream with a fly rod and trying to maintain footing on that uncertain rocky bottom has become a energy draining struggle between me and the river. You know, it used to be just relaxing fun. Strange how times change.

Cooking syrup over the wood fire creates a smoke screen that makes it too hard for me to breathe. As good as that syrup always tasted, if I have to choose between it and breathing, I guess it's no contest. I'll take breathing every time.

I recall that I used to split a huge stack of firewood and enjoy doing it. Now the sight of a pile of oak chunks and a splitting ax is enough to make me shudder.

I think back and see Ruth on the big screened porch creating beauty with her watercolors; I see the Ben Franklin stove flickering firelight across the room after we turn out the lights; and I see us getting up before dawn for a hunt. But the time finally arrived when it was best to keep those memories for the pleasure of remembering - not for trying to live them again.

Now there's a new owner of the Castor Hilton, and I don't know if they'll even call the cabin by the same name. But it's up to them to handle those details like naming the cabin, battling the steep and rocky terrain while cutting the grass and weeds, lugging firewood into the wood box and doing whatever else it is that they must do to own and care for a cabin in the woods.

Well, old Castor Hilton, we've had some fun inside your walls and we left our mark on you. At one time you were just a little one-room shelter. Then an early owner added a bedroom with a fireplace. Later, someone else came along and built the big screened porch. Our contribution was the bathroom with that most glorious convenience of all conveniences, running water.

Whatever the new folks do, we hope they have as much fun both inside and outside your walls as we had for 20 enjoyable years.

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