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The Hawk's Nest

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We all need a break from the daily routine. Last week it was time; I took a week of vacation.

    It started on Friday by taking a group of high school age kids to a retreat in the Cascades. We borrowed a brand new Suburban from a friend that could accommodate four kids, two adults and all the luggage that was needed.

     Vibrations from the music, which was not exactly mellow, coming from the brand new sound system may still be reverberating in the leather, glass and steel of the rig.

    As you might guess, the energy was high. Upon arrival at the retreat we joined a couple hundred other teens for the weekend.

I was assigned to a room with one other adult and 11 boys. I knew from the start sleep was not going to be part of the weekend. Aside from the youthful exuberance that is to be expected, the bed was rather hard. In fact, the difference between this bed and a shelf was quite subtle. I would sleep for an hour then have to get up and rest for a while.

    After two days of high voltage activities we loaded back into the Suburban for several hours that I thought would be filled with hip-hop, rap and techno music. But, shortly after we hit Interstate 90 I looked in the mirror and saw first one head fall over, then another one on it, and soon the back of the quiet car looked like a bunch of sleeping puppies. Even teen-age batteries need to be recharged sometimes.

    When I got home on Sunday night my vacation was going to really begin. I know North Idaho is a destination vacation location, so I thought I would just stay here for the week. Really, the decision was motivated by a need to get a roof on our new home before winter set in.   

We have a contractor working on the house but I thought I could help him and save us some labor costs. After all, I had worked construction back in the early 70’s so it would be no problem.

    At six the next morning I was up, looked out and noticed the temperature was about 10 degrees. This hadn’t been in the plan. I put on long johns, wool pants, wool work sweater and coat and went out looking for the old tool belt I used 30 years ago. It seemed to be a lot tighter than I remembered. It was probably all the winter clothes.

    When Grover, the contractor, arrived we started to work. After a few hours of running up and down ladders, hauling lumber and dragging air hose for the nailer, I was ready for lunch and a little sit down time. I checked the clock - it said 8:30. I checked another clock that said 8:29.

    While leaning against a tree I was jarred back to reality by Grover calling from the roof,  “Will you bring….” I don’t remember the rest, I just remember wondering how in the world I was going to get back up that 18 feet of metal and fiberglass ladder with whatever it was that was needed up there. I felt like he was playing Annie Over and I was the object going over the roof.

    Finally, after 16 or 17 hours (I didn’t realize it stayed light that long in October), the first day ended. I fell into my recliner as the clock rang 4 pm. How could that be after all those hours?

    The next day started at 6 am again but went a little better, though  it still seemed like it took at least 12 or 13 hours to get to four in the afternoon. By Thursday, the old tool belt had stretched a little and wasn’t feeling quite as tight, but there was still more day than energy in my aching muscles.

    On Sunday, the last day of my vacation, I quit early in the afternoon and staggered into the house for rest. My partner in all things wonderful, who is also my personal health care provider, offered to give me a massage. I needed one and landed on the massage table like a bag of dirty laundry, face down. She worked on muscles that I hadn’t felt since high school football, then had me roll over on my back.

    She picked up my head and said, “Just relax and let me hold your head.” Then she said “I have your head, just let it lay back in my hands.” Then she said, “I’ll hold your head just let it go.” I thought “How could I be so tired and tense at the same time?"

    I had been on the table for over an hour before she finished. She suggested emu oil on the problem spots to help soreness. She said “I’ll put some here, here, here, here, here, here, and here  - is that all of them?”

    I wished I could have saved some of that youthful teen energy from the previous weekend.

    On Monday I was back on the job. As I sat down at my desk I thought how glad I was to be back from vacation - now maybe I can get a little rest.


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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

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