Big boys and their toys have existed since man first had discretionary income and today is my first time to witness this, after travelling six hours in a car with my mother. We have arrived to visit my grandparents in Ontario, Canada. We parked the car, said our hellos, and are now walking to behold Grandpa’s boathouse. The structure itself is unrecognizable and I’m finding myself more curious than impressed. It’s a building that Grandpa Hank has created with his own hands but I’m unsure of its purpose. As we make our way from the house to the lake the smell of fresh blacktop reminds me that this is his most recent project, and he is grinning from ear to ear as he tells Mother and I how he made it and what waits inside.
Grandpa Hank is a salesman for the Clark Equipment Company and travels across the country selling bulldozers, backhoes, and other heavy equipment to local contractors and large corporations alike. He is well-suited for the job and makes a good salary in comparison to other members of Mother’s family. I believe that he and Gram are rich. This boathouse is like the bacon that early English settlers hung above the mantels of their fireplaces. His and Gram’s lives are prospering, and his wealth is front and center. He is someone who came from nothing and I admire him for his success.
The outside of the large shed is covered with siding that has recently been sprayed with creosote, giving it a dark rich color, and exuding a pungent odor that pairs with the asphalt. A hornet’s nest hangs conspicuously above the platform that borders the west wall and the buzzing of its inhabitants promises a merciless attack to anyone who gets too close to the grey, round orb. I have the feeling that this will not be my only encounter with their nation. Our footsteps on the hardwood planks echo against the water below and ripples of water lap against the wide door that faces the center of Doe Lake. As Hank unlocks the door, off the platform side, we enter the boathouse to examine machines that seem extravagant and impractical to our way of life. The afternoon sunlight filters through the panes of the big door, allowing us to easily survey the watercrafts. These include a two-man canoe, a V-Hull fishing boat, and a “Bazooo.” The canoe interests me the most because my 9-year old frame would fit more snugly within it. Grandpa had taken me fishing in the boat last summer when it was simply tied to the floating dock he once had. He explained that he had recently acquired the 6-wheeled Bazooo and it had the ability to travel over dirt, asphalt, brush, and water. “I’ll take you for a ride in it on the lake once you get settled,” he offered. Unexpectedly, I turned to see the “Skidoo” in the corner. Technically, it wasn’t a water craft but it did drive on ice. Hank had let me drive the snowmobile last Easter and he now has it in storage until the white season returns.
Muskrats are in the water now and their agile movements remind me of Olympic synchronized swimming on the television set at home. Huskier than a squirrel or a rat, the natural light gleams off of their wet coats as they surface, exposing fur that spikes in the direction of where they have been. The bigger of the two presents his two hands, grabbing the fresh parsnip that Grandpa tosses in the water. Grandpa’s voice echoes in the small space as he laughs at the creature. “Just wait until I make pelts from the both of you,” he grumbled like a bridge troll. A couple of muskrat traps were stacked behind him.
As he locks the building, I know the tour is over but I can also surmise that the adventures are sure to begin. I will be spending a lot more time in this building that houses loud machines and ominous creatures. Visions of freshwater fishing, snapping turtles, swimming, and water skiing flash before my eyes. It’s going to be a great summer!