Tales from the Cabin
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Cabin Chores

No good deed goes unpunished

By Paul Sullivan
Published: August 20, 2010
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Photo by Alexander Kuzovlev, dreamstime.com
The weekend after Labor Day, Chuck and I were supposed to meet at his cabin on the Eel River, one of Indiana’s best smallmouth bass rivers, but an unexpected business problem forced him to cancel. Calling from his Cleveland office, he said, “You go on ahead and catch some smallies for me. We’ll meet up this fall for the Oktoberfest party.”
   
The key to Chuck’s cabin was under the slab of limestone where it always was. I opened the door and flipped on the hallway light. No light. I robbed a light bulb from a desk lamp and replaced the hallway bulb. Still no light. Must be a bad switch.
   
My friend Chuck’s always so busy with his job, he doesn’t like to do chores at his cabin. He likes to relax. Myself, I don’t mind. Chores give me something to do in between sleeping, reading and eating. I’d pick up a light switch and replace it for him.
   
After sunset, the cabin cooled off quickly. I wished I had some wood for the fireplace. Chuck never gets around to ordering firewood, and I’d forgotten to pick up a couple of bags of wood at Butch’s General Store.
   
In town the next day to get the light switch, I was about to buy two $5.95 mesh bags of firewood – “decorator firewood” I call it – when I decided right then and there to break the habit of relying on expensive, inconvenient little mesh bags of wood. I didn’t need them. Instead, I’d buy a manly half-cord of mixed hardwood for the cabin, my gift to Chuck for letting me use the place now and then.
   
After the local wood supplier dumped my order of stove-length logs into a pile, I split the load into splintery thirds and halves. The easy ones anyway. The knotty ones would have to wait until I had some wedges. I split some kindling too.
   
Off to the side of the outdoor fire ring, I stacked the wood neatly, covered it with canvas and tied it off. Anyone who has cut his own firewood knows the old adage: “Heating with wood warms you twice.” Tired and sweaty, I proudly surveyed my work.
   
Before I headed back home, I laid the supplies for a fire in the fireplace and topped it with a note: “Hooray! No more bags of wood!” I was quite pleased with myself.
   
Later, I called Chuck to let him know he’d missed out on some great fishing. “Caught a four-pound
smallie on a fly rod,” I said. “Weather was kinda chilly though.”
  
 “Well,” he said, “We won’t be chilly at the cabin for much longer.
   
“Why’s that?” I asked.
  
 “I bought a gas fireplace insert. Guy’s putting it in this week.”
   
Huh. Figures.
   
“Chuck, for your Oktoberfest party, let’s do a pit-roasted pig. You bring the piggy, I’ll bring the firewood.”

Paul Sullivan has never met a cabin he didn’t like. 
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