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Pine Needles

Ponderosa pines and a crater lake.

The mountains are calling and I must go. -- John Muir

I have memories of being carried up the face of the old New England mountain in the back pack on my dad's back. Arms around his neck, ducking so I wouldn't get smashed in the face by the leaves and branches. Later, when I was too heavy to be carried, we would scramble up the face to see who could get there first, it was a mile straight up. The back side was longer, maybe two miles, with a more gradual, meandering climb. I remember reaching the top, lying down on the giant boulder and looking straight down into the lake. The boats seemed so tiny, I must have been miles high up in the sky. The lake glistened in the sun, I could see forever.

The trail started behind our large family cabin, the front of the cabin looked out onto the cove of a lake, surrounded by mountains. This particular mountain had a sister, this was East, the one next to it was West. Until I was 18, I spent my summers here. Many of the family did too. Dormitory style, it probably slept twenty of us at a time, which meant there were daily trips up the mountain, waterskiing, swimming, sailing, and on rainy days endless card games and jigsaw puzzles. Every meal seemed to be lobster and steak.

The family cabin was sold after Great Uncle Didi passed away, the 200 acres accompanying it, donated to the state university for preservation. It's been more than twenty years since I've been back, and it took me three years on the waitlist to finally be able to rent it again. I shouldn't have been surprised that being a family member of the family who built the place wouldn't receive special consideration.

It smell...