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Four Years at the Mount

Junior Year

Come on, Maggie, Get the Squirrel…Oh Wait…

Samantha Strub
MSM Class of 2013

(August, 2011) The Strub vacation at the cabin this year started off normally. It gave us a chance to take time off work and enjoy my father’s safe return from Iraq with friends and family. This was the first time in two years that I had been able to join the rest of my family for a summer vacation. I was excited to have the luxury of sleeping in, spending time with my cousins, reading, and sun bathing. My boyfriend, Paul, was even able to come up from Washington, D.C. to spend the week with us.

Everyone, especially city-boy Paul, came to an unexpected awakening when we found out that, because of bad storms in northern Wisconsin, hundreds of trees were down and the towns hit the worst were out of power. The power wasn’t supposed to be back on for at least a week, which looked to be the whole time that we were going to be there. Most people would find this appalling, but the Strubs are quite used to not having running water or lights. For years we had to use the outhouse and shower in the lake. Only about four years ago, when my grandparents retired and sold their other house and moved into the cabin full time, did they finally add a bathroom. Our biggest problem was how to keep the food cold for 24 people. On the way up, my dad bought a generator to keep the refrigerators going and carried lots of bottled water that we could use for brushing teeth and washing dishes, while the rest of my aunts and uncles brought up ice for the coolers.

It was hard to notice anything different when we first got there, except the fans weren’t running in the garage and it was a little darker than usual. My grandpa collects everything-- hats, noodles for the pool, movies, books, cars, tools, and this year he also found extra coolers. The garage is the size of a warehouse. It’s two stories tall; the lower level has all his cars, his tractor and his tools, while the upper level has a mini kitchen along with his many collections, which are stacked in boxes all over the place. In between these boxes of who-knows-what are seven beds where my family sleeps every time we go up. It’s perfect being able to sleep in the garage because in the morning I can sleep in without my cousins waking me up. The only downside is without power it’s really hot and stuffy.

Even without electricity we still had tons of fun, sleeping in, then putting on our swim suits right away and tanning. We swam and played card games for the rest of the day. We were there over the 4th of July so we went to a parade and had a wonderful firework display courtesy of my dad, who always has way too much fun putting on a better and better show every year. My cousins and I pretty much lived in the water, swimming for a while, then getting out to read, tan and just chill with the family or in my case with my boyfriend, Paul. One day we swam across the lake with a canoe, sank it and then proceed to stand both inside and on top of the canoe while it is in the water and swim out to the middle of the lake while standing on it, for an hour at least. The sinking of the canoe is a tradition in my family that has been passed down from generation to generation. I remember being shocked when my Dad took my brother and me out in the canoe then suddenly flipped it over and then started messing around with it. Now it was time to pass that tradition down to the next generation, but the older cousins still took it out for a spin, even if we used the excuse that we had to show Paul how it was done.

It seemed that the week was going to pass as uneventfully as the plot of the novel I brought with me, but we got a huge surprise when I walked outside the garage to see my dog, Maggie, lunging after something halfway up a tree about ten feet away from me. I assumed that it was a squirrel because she had been chasing after them all week, but just when I was about to walk by, I saw a black furry creature limp up the same tree, barking wildly. I knew something fishy was going on because squirrels are not black and Maggie’s hair was standing up on edge. This black furry thing I saw run up the tree was actually a bear!

I was mesmerized by this beautiful animal that couldn’t have been much more than a year old, sitting in a tree ten feet away from me. I was standing there, just taking it all in, watching this bear look nervously down at Maggie, while she continued to bark. Then the bear decided she wasn’t worth it and settled in a ball up in the tree and started munching away. This made Maggie even more upset, as this strange creature was making herself at home on her property.

By this time, I was able to breathe again, as I heard my little cousins starting to make their way up from the lake. I understood the dangers this bear could pose for my family, and I figured out why it was so close to the cabin during daylight. My dad, sister and cousin Teresa were scaling and cutting fish for dinner. Maggie had chased the bear from the fish house, which happens to be in the same area as the outhouse. With this realization, I started yelling at everyone to get inside the cabin because a bear was right by the garage. I yelled out again, telling my father and grandpa to get over here now because Maggie had a bear up a tree. I heard my aunts, grandma and mom telling everyone to come inside. My dad got my sister and Teresa into the cabin and came over, followed by Paul, my cousin Kaitlyn and her mother Michele with the camera. My grandpa followed not long after with his gun or as we called it the bear discourager.

It took a little while to calm Maggie down enough to grab her and put her on a leash. However, Maggie kept that bear up long enough for us to comprehend that our dog had just chased a bear up a tree, get pictures, and even bring out the younger cousins to see a wild animal! My six-year-old cousin, Amanda, wanted me to hold her while we went to look at the bear and as she looked she turned and asked if I could get Maggie away so the bear could come down and I could bring her to pet the bear like she saw the people in the zoo do. I was mortified but explained that this bear wouldn’t let anyone pet it because it was wild and it would want to hurt you instead of wanting to be petted.

Once we took the children back into the house, got the dog on a leash and started dragging her away, the bear decided that it was safe to come down and go look for the fish. My grandpa figured that the bear might decide to head back in that direction, and he wasn’t going to have any of that, so he took his bear discourager and planted himself in between the two. My Aunt Michele, Kaitlyn, Paul and I went with Maggie into the garage. WE realized what Grandpa was about to do, and we yelled, asking him not to kill the bear as it tested its luck by inching toward the smell he came for in the first place. So instead my Grandpa took his bear discourager and shot inches away from the bear. That bear took off at a run in the opposite direction as the dirt sprayed into his face.

We waited awhile to see if our new friend was going to come back. Luckily, it didn’t; otherwise fish may not have been on the menu. However we did get an exciting new story to tell at the dinner table during our card games and to pass on to future generations. Our old bear story was getting old anyway. You always need some new excitement, right?

Read past editions of Samantha Strub's Four Years at the Mount