The 2022 Opening

by John Delach

Spring was nowhere to be seen this last week in April when Mary Ann and I made our first trip of the season to open our vacation house in Marlow, NH (Zip Code 03456, I kid you not). The weather was more like winter with early morning temperatures dropping to 28 degrees.

We made this first trip to assess what problems have manifested themselves over the winter and what we had to do to get them fixed before family and friends began to join us. Our local plumber, JPP. had re-opened the plant by putting on the electricity and turning on the water earlier in April. He gladly let me know that he didn’t find any problems at that time which is great news as any water left in the system when he drained and closed the house in January would have surely revealed itself with breaks and leaks.

We also hire a neighbor to clean and vacuum the house and she too didn’t report any problems. Even so, we knew before we arrived that there were several issues that had to be rectified to put our house in order for this season. We had a list of work we knew had to be done. My Number One issue was pumping out the septic system. Since this is a vacation home, I arrange for this service every two years. The time was up this spring so I booked the work for May 2nd.

We also have two pine trees close to the house that have to come down. One is dead, but the problem is the live one is locked together with its dead cousin. I called Donny M, our local landscaper who concurred.

Donny came by in his 1960 Willys pick-up truck, painted a Dodger’s blue, proud as a peacock.  We talked about things going on in Marlow, the high cost of gasoline, how bad mud season was this year: “You know, John, at its worst, the school bus couldn’t get up Marlow Hill! Those folks had to take their children down to Route 10.”

He gave me a price of $400 to cut down the two pine trees and remove the wood. “Sounds good to me, Don, and I’ll include another $100 dollars to cover the first mowing of the season.”

My 2022 opening issues were exacerbated by my left knee that had become a bear reducing me to walking with a cane. Unable to handle basic chores, we asked our son, Michael and our grandson, Matt, to join us to help with the heavy lifting. Our son, did double duty helping us while at the same time working remotely on a difficult May 1 insurance renewal, But, between father and son, the tasks at hand were successfully completed

April 30 was our son’s 51st birthday and we celebrated accordingly with excellent Rib-Eye steaks, cooked on our Weber gas grill. We also gave Matt an appropriate payment of cash money for a job well-done.

WIFI in rural America, like electricity, is a habitual challenge. Our present provider is Consolidated Communications, who replaced Fairpoint, who bought out Verizon’s northern New England system about ten-years ago. It seems that Consolidated has finally done what is needed to adequately provide proper band width, etc., and we should have had a smooth 2022 resumption of service.

We should have, but that didn’t take into account the human factor, namely me. When I suspended service in early January, I also suspended our Direct TV service. What I forgot was the Direct TV satellite service automatically resumed on a date I gave them, but I had to call Consolidated in advance of our first visit to resume telephone and internet service.

My failure forced Mary Ann to make a series of desperate phone calls that ultimately resulted in a resumption of service. Thankfully, I got off easily.

All this confusion over electronic communications made me reflect back on that simpler time in 1984 when we first purchased Little House, a time before satellite TV, cellular, much less, smart phones, a time without internet or even computers when all we had was a single land line and a TV that picked up one television station by way of a roof-top antenna aimed at a signal being broadcast from Burlington, VT.

We packed up for our trip back to Port Washington on Sunday morning pleased with the condition to which we had restored Little House during our visit. Finally, a the promise of spring greeted us. Winter still ruled the land, but the sun warmed us as we finished packing the truck after 9 am. Our last task was helping to board our two very best friends, Max and Tessie, in their quarters in the back of our SUV.

As we finished that task, Mary Ann asked, “John, do you remember what today’s date is?”

I replied, “May 1st.”

“Indeed,” she replied. “Look around, what do you see?”

“OMG, May flies! I don’t believe they are actually making their presence known today of all days.”

The usual rule of thumb in New Hampshire for the black fly season is Mother’s Day to Father’s Day.

“Oh dear, first a terrible mud season, now a long black fly season; I can’t imagine what else we should expect to encounter this summer?”