Living the backwoods bachelor cabin life meant hunting our share of squirrels and rabbits. Occasionally a surprise slice of apple pie topped off our wild game feasts.
Squirrel graced our cast iron skillet more than any other game. Could be that my pal Hog Ears and I owe our very lives to squirrel hunting. Cabin fever hit us hard one snowy winter.
It’s amazing we didn’t strangle each other . This was The Winter of ’79, one of the harshest in memory.
Cabin life was pure bliss in the fall after we got laid off from our jobs at the state park. Nothing to do but fish, hunt and cut firewood for the fireplace and wood stove.
Talk about paradise. Our cabin was cradled in the folds of a 1,000-acre spread our landlord owned. A clear-running stream flowed right through our front yard, past the cabin’s front porch. Our nearest neighbor was a mile away.
Rent was $50 a month when I lived there alone. Recruiting Hog Ears for a roommate cut it to $25.
Things were great until winter grew brutal and cabin fever kicked in. To keep from killing each other, I’d head out to hunt squirrels in the morning. Hog Ears set out with his shotgun in the afternoon.
We’d both be home around noon when Brenda, our rural postal carrier, brought the mail. That was no easy chore. From the end of the pavement, she’d steer her four-wheel-drive International Scout over four miles of bad gravel road to our cabin. Big letters spelled out U.S. Mail in her back window.
If the snow was flying, Hog Ears and I would hunker close to the fire and watch out the window for Brenda to stop at our mailbox. Sometimes, on the rare days it didn’t snow, we’d wait for her by the road and get our mail in person. We’d chit chat and catch up on the neighborhood news. We were all about the same age, Brenda, Hog Ears and I, in our early 20s.
One day after Brenda’s delivery, I opened our mailbox and nearly swooned, the aroma was so wonderful. Inside was a home-baked apple pie, still warm from the oven. I hustled the pie into the cabin, eager to share our good fortune with Hog Ears.
We devoured the whole pie right there by the fireplace. I’d never tasted an apple pie so delicious. Hog Ears agreed and looked up from his plate.
“She’s sweet on you,” Hog Ears teased. “No,” I countered, “you’re the one she’s sweet on.”
Regardless, we slid the empty pie pan back in the mailbox with a nice thank you note and put the flag up. That way Brenda would be sure to stop the next day and get her pan back.
Every few weeks during that long winter, one of Brenda’s beautiful apple pies would grace our mailbox. Hog Ears and I couldn’t have been more thankful.
Turned out she wasn’t sweet on anybody, just a great gal who was always cheerful, always smiling and eager every day to spread happiness around the world.
Months later we said goodbye to our beloved backwoods cabin. Hog Ears moved to Alaska. I migrated a couple hours away to another cabin, this one on the edge of Beaver Lake.
Today if I even think about apple pie, I always think of Brenda.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at email@example.com.
Sports on 03/20/2018