MULDREW STORIES ANTHOLOGY BY ANDREA ANTHONY-LUKE
For some time now, Andrea has been writing GREAT short stories about her experiences here at Muldrew. We've put them all in one place for your reading pleasure. HER LATEST IS JUST BELOW:
Audrey spent the winter looking at real estate ads. Nothing would please her except having a cottage of their own. Jack couldn’t believe that she would pick the worst time of year – May in Muskoka to drag the realtor, he and their rambunctious three year old out to look at properties. Someone, actually, a lot o f people told her that Muskoka was the ONLY place to go. Armed with lifejackets that she spent $100.00 on and a new hat (another $40.00) and the cutest white boating shoes (who knew how much) for she and their son, they drove North like people on a quest for the Holy Grail.
The realtor was forty five minutes late which suited them perfectly since they took at least five dead end roads (not on the map, no matter what SHE said) before finding the meeting spot. They parked at the side of a gravel road. Jack winced as he listened to the stones spray on the side of his new car whenever a pick up truck careened around the curve.
Terry Friendly arrived in his gleaming, pristine Hummer and, popping the collar on his orange golf shirt, told them they didn’t need to take the boat after all. There was a road running right behind this choice piece of land. They could drive in his van and be at their cottage in minutes.
Jeffrey told his father:
“I need to pee.”
Jack looked at him as if just remembering he was there.
“Go in the bushes. Your mother will take you.”
“Eeew – not in the bushes. Isn’t there a toilet around here?”
Jack scanned the thick shrubbery and declared:
“You’ll have to wait then.”
Terry offered his hand to Audrey like an usher at a wedding and helped her climb into the front seat. Jack and Jeffrey clambered into the back seat and they bumped along the rutted road. All the windows were down Jeffrey hung his head out the window like a dog.
Audrey sat in the front just about bubbling over with excitement and useless information. She had already decided on the kinds of flowers she would plant and had some great ideas for the barbecues with the neighbours. Apparently the road just FELT right to her.
Wryly, Jack thought to himself that all SHE liked the feel of recently was the Visa card in her hand.
After consulting the notes written on the back of his cigarette package, Terry announced that they were almost there. He swept into a driveway with posts on either side and jammed the truck into Park. He swung his leather-tassled loafers out onto the gravel, spun like a dancer, outstretched his arms and announced:
“Here we are!”
Audrey and Jack clambered out and looked at the tangle of raspberry bushes, trees, ferns and fallen logs. Peering down, they saw a pathetic little stream and another slope up to the cottage. All Jack could make out was a grey roof and shocking orange trim around the windows.
Audrey was thrilled:
“Oh, look, Jack. It’s so cute and isolated and..”
“Rustic!” Terry exclaimed.
Jeffrey pulled urgently on Jack’s belt loop, his other hand clenched at his crotch.
“I already told you – you’ll just have to wait!”
They fought their way through prickles and slid down the wet leaves on the bank, ending up standing ankle deep in muddy water.
Terry looked sadly down at his now-ruined shoes but said bravely:
“It’s a shame to stop here.”
He grasped Audrey’s hand and, with his other hand protectively behind her waist, helped her scramble up the other bank.
Sighing, Jack yanked Jeffrey along by one arm and they arrived at the summit.
Audrey began to whine:
“Would you just look at my shoes and the scratches on my legs?”
Terry reached his manicured hand into his pocket and fished out a key along with three condoms in different colours that fell to the ground. He tried in vain to cover them with his shoe.
Forgetting that he had to pee, Jeffrey asked:
“Are those candies?”
“No!” growled Terry, scooping them up along with a handful of pine needles and shoving them deep into his back pocket.
Recovering himself, he fitted the key into the lock and gestured grandly like a bellboy at the finest hotel:
Not bloody likely thought Jack. Who knew what could be in there? Animals or maybe some local homeless person camping out. He shook his head grimly.
Terry entered the cottage, leaving muddy footprints on the orange and white linoleum. He found the fuse box and turned on every light in the place.
The cottage had only one bedroom, a tiny kitchen, a wall for the bathroom but was equipped with enough lights to light up most of Muskoka. Jack began to count them as Terry showed Audrey all the conveniences. There was a darling fridge and stove in Harvest Gold colour, a teak dining room table and chairs – all included! and two lumpy twin beds covered with sawdust.
The inside of the cottage smelled stale and damp like a kitty litter box that hasn’t been scooped.
All the fight seemed to have gone out of Audrey. Her legs were running with little streams of blood. Her big purse, with the forgotten camera inside looked like it could pull her over.
“Well, it’s not like what I thought” she said in a small voice looking at Jack pitifully. As if he could change THAT.
With a start, they realized that Jeffrey wasn’t with them anymore. They rushed outside and found him at the edge of the cliff poking at some sort of nest hanging from a pine tree.
“Look at the lake” he crowed.
They had forgotten all about the Lake. Jack inched out on the rock and grabbed Jeffrey by his wrist.
“Come on. Let go of the stick.”
The lake was pretty all right. There were only about four thousand trees blocking the view but the parts that they could see were lovely. Jack wondered how one would ever get down there. More importantly, how would one ever get back up? The steps that weren’t missing looked rotten.
He glanced at Audrey and began to feel a little sorry for her. Her white shorts had mud on the seat, her white boat shoes were brown and sloshing with every step and she was waving her new hat around her head energetically.
“What are these things?”
“Flies” muttered Terry.
“Not like any flies I’ve ever seen.”
“Do they bite?”
“Not inside, anyhow.”
This bit of information was enough to get Jeffrey interested:
“Are they poisonous? Do they make you bleed? Could you die if a lot of them bit you?”
“No, no, of course not.” Terry snapped. But he was beginning to wonder. Back in the city all he had to worry about was if the garage door opener worked or who to call if someone let their dog crap in his lawn.
This must have been an office joke, sending him out with these people on a budget to try to unload this property. It had been on the market for over a year but no one wanted it. Planning some vague vengeance he tried to recall who recommended real estate in here anyhow.
Jack sat down on a stump. The flies weren’t bothering HIM and recalled the satin feel of lake water on his skin, gliding like an otter at summer camp. He looked over at Jeffrey squatting on a rock rooting through his mothers purse and wondered if maybe Audrey was right. They did need a cottage. And here was one they could afford.
Audrey lit a cigarette, inhaled deeply, and smiled over at Jack. He knew that look. The look that said she had a plan that he was powerless to stop.
Terry twirled the trunk keys on his forefinger
“See enough? Should we be on our way?”
Like a small band of refugees fleeing a hostile country the four of them descended the hill and arrived sweating and winded at the big, black truck.
It was right where they left it but with the addition of a thick silver chain running through the opened windows padlocked to each post.
Inappropriately, Jack wanted to laugh:
“Hey Jeff, did you see any bolt cutters in Mom’s purse?”
Around the Life Saver in his mouth, he asked:
Looking up into Terry’s panicked green eyes, Audrey asked:
“Oh my, what do we do?”
Suddenly, a large form loomed from behind one of the bigger pines holding what at first appeared to be a shotgun.
Audrey leaped in front of Jeffrey, opened the back door of the truck and thrust him into the back seat where he promptly peed his pants.
The unshaven man lowered the shovel from his shoulder and thrust the gleaming blade into the moss.
“Didn’t you see the Private Road sign?”
Terry squared his shoulders, thrust out his hand and said in a high pitched voice:
“I’m Terry Friendly from Lakeview Realty.”
The man scowled:
“Oh, I know who YOU are. I also know this is a private road and no trespassers are welcome. We spent years building it and you are showing a water access cottage foolishly!”
Thinking the man must have meant fraudulently, Jack, with the same insane urge that made him laugh at funerals wondered if this might be one of the new neighbours that Audrey was planning those barbecues with.
Like a guilty schoolboy who’s been caught, Terry began his apology:
To be Continued.
Andrea Anthony-Luke 2009
COMPANY IS COMING
Audrey had enjoyed her summer so far. Being at the Lake with her kids had been ideal. On the weekdays.
She had been ignoring the phone messages from acquaintances from the City who dropped broad hints:
“Sure is hot in the City”
“Bet the Lake is really warm by now”
Sadly, however, her husband took the bait and now that family was on their way.
“They’re a nice couple – great kids” her husband assured her.
After doing the laundry in town, grocery shopping and getting water, the next job was to clean out the fridge. It yielded three missing bowls with mysterious contents.
“That must be the salad from your Aunt’s party.”
“Mom, that was two weeks ago!”
Audrey found a bag of milk wedged in the back. No wonder the cheese drawer wouldn’t close properly, she thought. She found a bag of zucchini from someone’s garden that had turned slimy and soup-like. Like an archaeologist she uncovered three types of cheese wrapped in plastic wrap and identical little green vests.
She hurled the peaches from last week into the bush, made up the beds, vacuumed and she and her children headed down to the Lake for what they called a “dreamboat cruise”. Three swimmers with swim noodles formed a circle holding each others noodle, propped their feet on the others legs and drifted. They shut their eyes, listened to the wind meander through the trees and felt the water caressing their hair. Audrey hoped her children would remember this moment always.
Suddenly they heard the unmistakable jingle of dog tags and a shout from up the hill. Already? Audrey thought miserably. Forty eight more hours, she told herself.
The family of four had arrived and, judging from the barking at the end of the dock, so had their dog. Panicked, Audrey tried to remember if her cat was in or out.
“We knew you wouldn’t mind. It’s so hard to find someone to take care of Buster.”
Trudging upstairs, Audrey wondered from long experience what – if anything – they had brought with them. They unloaded two packages of hot dogs without buns, a case of beer, overgrown zucchini, a bag of Bugles which the boy commandeered to wear as fingernails, snarling when asked to share. They brought two sleeping bags and a metal shovel and rake though there was no beach. The boy dug at rocks and, when Audrey wasn’t looking, the flower beds.
Audrey’s husband pulled in later with his overnight bag and golf clubs, poured a drink and chatted with the couple while Audrey played Snakes and Ladders with the kids. Her children pleaded exhaustion and went to bed early. Audrey could see them nudging each other as they went down the hall. She could almost hear them smirk.
The sunset was spectacular but was ignored in the nightmare of bedtime. The guest kids didn’t want to go over to the cabin. They were afraid of the dark, mosquitoes, loon calls, ants, bats, raccoons and bears. They needed all the flashlights, drinks of water, toothpaste and bug spray.
By 11:30 all was quiet. Audrey sat in the dark in the screened-in porch, rubbed the cat’s ears and took deep cleansing breaths. Thirty six more hours she told herself.
By four in the morning she awoke rudely to four flashlight beams and shouting as the guests stumbled over from the cabin
“He was sick. Do you have clean bedding and a garbage bag?”
Clearly none the worse for the wear, the guest children were back in the main cottage by 7:00 looking for juice, cereal and a TV.
“This is my mom’s sleep in morning” they informed Audrey.
She heard the decisive click of her children’s bedroom door and the stealthy slide of their window closing.
The men left two greasy frying pans and a counter full of toast crumbs behind as they headed off to their golf game. An hour later, the guest mother, dressed all in white flopped down into a deck chair, leaned back, pursed her perfectly pink lips and sighed blissfully.
“It’s so nice to just sit here and do nothing. And YOU get to do it all summer!”
The guest children pleaded to go down to the Lake. Audrey helped them gather together all the things they would need and, after freeing the smaller one’s head from between the slats in the railing, they headed down to the Lake.
Audrey listened to the dog barking at boats, skiers and the wind. He jumped into the water every time one of her children did, shook on all the dry towels and rolled in the flower beds to dry off. The guest children mentioned a dozen times how cold the water was, looking accusingly at Audrey as if she could somehow fix it.
Audrey’s children swam out to the rock while she sorted out fights over whose turn it was to use the swim mask and the flippers. Her guest glanced up from her book whose cover showed a half-clothed woman and an oily over-muscled man and asked:
“Have you read this one? It’s really, really good!”
Soon the guests were bored and hungry. Audrey herded them all upstairs and put on a movie. Her children departed on a nature walk, still another activity they had devised that the others were too small for.
She hunted up hot dog buns and hamburgers and buns, wishing she had kept that salad from her sister’s party. Audrey did the breakfast dishes and looked longingly out the window at the hammock, craving the comforting heft of a book in one hand, ignoring the dog poop on the walkway.
The men arrived back from golf, uninterested in the complaints:
“There is nothing to DO here. It’s not like camp at all!”
They poured a drink and collapsed into deck chairs, poring over the minute details of their game. The guest mother took a long pull from her gin and tonic and asked:
“So what do you do up here all summer? I mean, you don’t do crafts or anything.”
Audrey doled out freezies, re-wrapped the hose the boy had unraveled all the way, locked the dog in the cabin and flung the rake and shovel into what she hoped was poison ivy.
She lit the barbeque and slapped her husband on the leg with the greasy flipper to wake him up. At lunch there were requests for Dijon mustard, shredded cheese and pop, another thing they hadn’t brought with them.
Audrey’s children were sent on a quest for a plunger. Apparently no one could read the sign in the cabin that prohibited flushing mitts of toilet paper.
She went to her bathroom and locked the door. She closed her eyes and thought of Barbie races under the dock, picnics on the island and silent canoe rides on quiet, inscrutable water.
Her husband put down his drink and announced it was time for the big boat ride. Audrey found life jackets in appropriate sizes:
“How come HE gets the red life jacket and I get stuck with the orange one?”
Her husband took the cover off the boat with the flair of a magician. They tumbled in and Audrey waved them off enthusiastically. She tied the dog to a tree with a skipping rope, perhaps tying the knot tighter than it needed to be. She opened one of their beers (ha!) and lay on the dock, absorbing the heat like a lizard, reveling in the silence. Twenty four more hours, she thought.
Dinner was the guest’s contribution but they had forgotten a few ingredients – cream, fresh dill, special barbecue sauce and rice. The children ate Kraft Dinner that Audrey prepared and argued over which bowl they would eat from.
While Audrey stirred dinner, cooked the shrimp and made rice, the guest parents were in the cabin showering while their dog whined at the door. Audrey smirked, knowing they had no idea that it was Lake water. Water they would never swim in.
After dinner, the guest father looked around and commented:
“You’ve probably made a lot of money on this place already.”
Audrey stared into the candlelight and smiled to herself. A lot of people would never get it. They couldn’t ever feel the attachment to a place. They don’t see the faces in the wood paneling or notice the lonely train whistle in the distance. They don’t get goose bumps every time the loon calls. They don’t catch their breath in delight when a beaver paddles by or crave the silk of water on cool skin. All they see is too much travel time, too much work, market value, mosquito bites and the lack of a corner store.
Sixteen more hours, she thought.
Andrea Anthony-Luke July 2008
It’s the last glimpse of the cottage every fall that pulls at my heartstrings. The goodbye I don’t want to say. The echoes of the summer ring in my ears. The muffled giggles in the sleeping bags. The warmth of the bonfire absorbed into my bones. The sun setting and the moon rising at the same time. Dozens of whispered wishes made on shooting stars. And now, the sound of the chickadees singing their fall farewell.
The last walk around, wading through an ocean of leaves. The pines meet over the stairs, needles kissing my cheek on my descent to the car which will ferry us back to the necessary, serious part of our lives.
One merely needs to read the guest book to be certain that no one leaves this place indifferently. Or willingly. No one is immune to the soothing balm the lake provides. We store our memories like the sleek, fat squirrels burying acorns.
Fall means Thanksgiving. Elbow deep in soapy water I inhale the scent of pies baking in the oven. Light rain whispers on the roof. My kids are laughing in the next room. There are birds stuffing themselves at the feeder and the chipmunks are down below gathering the benefits of seed falling from the sky. It is a time to be grateful and I am thankful. For this place. This moment. My place in the kitchen, in the cottage and at the Lake. I can’t remember feeling happier. More peaceful. Like I’ve swallowed a secret.
Fall is a boatful of men singing Sinatra songs off-key, puttering down the lake in the dark. Fall is the satisfying crack of someone splitting wood preparing for winter. It is watching winking candles on the table, bundled up in a quilt on the screened-in porch. It is our reluctant farewell and the promise of next year.
This place is subjective. It’s not near or far. Not a two hours drive or across the ocean. It’s right there – inside us. That light, weightless deep breath kind of high. It’s always there if we just close our eyes. Like a slow-cooked meal – waiting for you whenever you need it.
I can summon that feeling back in winter when I’m tasting summer berries in a pie. When I’m shoveling snow, dreaming of sun on my skin. When I start the computer and see an image of nine grinning teenagers standing on Alligator Rock on a warm, rainy August day.
When I hear the chickadees singing their spring song it will be time to go back to where we belong.
Andrea Anthony-Luke Fall 2007
The image of the teenagers ON ALLIGATOR ROCK
Padding down to our tiny beach in my bare, calloused cottage feet – my pockets stuffed with peanuts in the shell for my early-rising sharp-eyed chipmunk friends. Overturning the canoe carefully looking for white-bellied grinning frogs who might have spent the night squatted under the boat, safe from clever pawed raccoons. Scanning the shore for clumps of hundreds of writhing black velvet baby catfish, vigilantly patrolled by long-whiskered parents.
We were boat access cottagers. Dozens of families arrived at the landing every Friday night from May until October. Families with kids like myself who had gobbled egg salad sandwiches on the way up in the car. Kids who were stuffed into the back seat with our siblings, feet on coolers, smelling the gas tanks in the trunk. Kids like us who knew how to carry those gas cans and choke motors and dock boats on windy days. Families who slapped our faces and necks numb mashing black flies, arriving at our cottages looking like massacre survivors.
We bailed boats and held the flashlights on the dark, damp ride up the lake, the wake spitting out to either side. We knew how to fold empty beer cases and balance paper grocery bags on our laps. We were ballast for propane tanks that our parents wrestled up from the dock – lining them up under the eaves like people getting in out of the rain. We knew how long the briquettes had to heat before we’d have dinner, when the beaver would make the final sunset glide past the dock and what time the bats would swoop down low over the lake, inhaling hundreds of mosquitoes.
When it was completely, Muskoka dark there wasn’t much to do in the throbbing light of the three propane lights in the cottage and it was time for bed. Stuffed like sausages into sleeping bags in our bunk beds, we’d hold our musty pillows over our faces while our mother sprayed billowing clouds of Raid into the air.
The tinny slap of a screen door across the bay signalled the presence of our closest neighbours. In years past almost every year a new baby arrived swaddled in a beer case at the bottom of the boat between one of her sisters feet packed carefully between the food boxes and extra gas cans. Now there were five girls – all wearing orange life jackets – like a group of long legged robins. Sound travelled across the water. A burp could be heard across the bay. We were well informed when allegiances between the sisters changed. Who borrowed whose running shoes and never returned them. Who got the last hot dog. Who left the life jackets out in the rain. They named everything – Exile Island, Toothbrush Rock, Snake Island. They knew the most curse words. They had the best collection of Archie comic books but they had to be read out in the gap-floored boathouse. They’d plan damp towel fashion shows, pottery classes using the clay from the bottom of their bay or gunwale bobbing competitions. We made Muldrew Mush – competing who could make the most disgusting concoction – pine needles and mud or caterpillar cocoons and slimy water-lily roots. They called their father by his first name, just never to his face.
Stroking away from the beach meant freedom. My paddle slicing into the water, the lake slurping at the bow and gurgling away behind me. Early in the morning water lily flowers opened up to the sun showing their yellow middles and sometimes I saw a gnarled fist-sized snapping turtle head gliding slowly through the weeds. I smelled the intoxicating, heady smell of wild roses. No one knew where I was or when I’d be back. Clocks and calendars. Town shoes and socks. Those were all city things. Like school and homework. Months of sitting at a desk imagining leaping off the big rock at my grandmothers island. The thrill of that moment – eyes screwed tightly shut – lungs full of air – when I launched myself off the cliff and plunged down into the dark water. The panicked, triumphant feeling as I clawed my way back to the surface
The canoe sometimes meant a quick escape route from guests. Guests were people who caught my frogs, squeezing their silky bellies until they screamed. Guests were people who brought a bag of cookies and two dozen ears of corn from the highway and stayed for the whole weekend. Guests poked at wasps’ nests with sticks. They held paddles like clubs, fingers wrapped around like they were climbing a rope, seating themselves into the canoe facing me. Guests moored strings of floating styrofoam balls to limit how far their children could swim. One family had an old, patient black dog who was trained to softly clamp his huge jaws around our wrists and pull us to shore if we went out too far. We could swim, of course, with or without the bathing caps covered in rubber flowers that our cousin presented us with each summer. Guests saw danger everywhere – bears in shadows, snapping turtles hungry for toes or whole feet. Their kids tried to crush the beautiful neon dragonflies who ate mosquitoes on our behalf. They thought the bats would get tangled in their hair and then suck their blood.
The hum of an engine was an event. It could mean the dreaded arrival of neighbours. A brother and sister who were sent off in the boat every weekend so their parents could sleep in. A brother and sister who couldn’t stand each other. The daughter wore an oversized, padded bikini top that belonged to her mother. She perched at the front of the boat like a figurehead, one knee up, arching her back. The brother drove the boat in dizzying circles crashing into his own wake over and over. They were involved in arguments that lasted all summer. They bickered and poked at each other and told awful lies to whoever would listen:
“SHE started it”
“Wanna know what HE did last night?”
One afternoon their father stumbled into the leaky cedar strip boat, slipping and falling into the oily purple and yellow rainbow water sloshing around the stern. Outraged, the daughter puffed out her barely developed chest and informed us all that her father could have DROWNED!
Or a boat could mean visitors from the city. We all knew the sound and sight of the orange and brown water taxi, piloted by a one and a half-armed woman. We all rented space from her to dock our boats at the landing. She was a source of fascination to generations of morbid, bloodthirsty children. We all imagined the horrible accident that left her without part of an arm. The fact that it was merely a birth defect didn’t convince us. WE knew about bears and snapping turtles. She was always accompanied by one of a succession of yappy black poodles. They all had names like Mimi or Fifi. Skinny little dogs that nipped at everyone’s ankles at the landing. The water taxi woman liked to put up informative signs on the boathouse about the dangers of feeding salted peanuts to chipmunks. Or she would report where the loon family with the new baby was nesting and suggest people stay away. Of course, these signs were guaranteed to bring boatloads of loud people roaring full throttle into our bay to get a close look at the family. To see the baby loon on its mothers back looking myopic and confused, its feathers sticking up like cowlicks. These visits caused my father to drop any tool he happened to be working with and roar off in the boat to chase them off. They didn’t know that loons can drown.
At the cottage we had chipmunk holes so big and deep that we lost several croquet balls each summer. All the chipmunks had names and waited on the deck every Friday for the new shipment of peanuts. June bugs stumbled against the screen and white moths darted all night. In the morning hundreds of them would cling to the screen paralyzed by the light.
Trips in the canoe could mean portaging down the creek barefoot – lugging the canoe, waiting for a rattlesnake to lunge out of the bushes and clamp its fangs into a calf. WE knew they were there. Our across the bay neighbour – briefly a hero to me after he burned a bloodsucker off my leg with a red-hot cigarette – had a rattlesnake skin displayed proudly over his mantel. It took many years and a lot of my parent’s rum to get the true story. He ran it over with his truck – two or three times to be sure. Then he froze it in the freezer and gave it to his brother in law to skin. The crusty skin shrunk yearly along with his hero status.
We swam every day, ducking under the overturned canoe to avoid triangle spotted deer flies and huge horseflies. We swatted ourselves sore until we crushed their armour and drowned them, waiting for sunfish to leave their sandy circle nests and suck them down from the surface.
This was MY Muldrew.
Andrea Anthony-Luke 2004
SUMMER IS COMING
Summer is coming. Summer is coming. We’ll be back at the cottage soon. It’s an incantation, a mantra, a promise we make to ourselves.
In October, once the last of the stain has been washed from our skin, we’re already thinking of next year at the Lake. OUR Lake.
In November when we finally get the Labour Day pictures developed, we can still hear the water lapping at the dock.
In December it feels as though we’ve been away for a year. We are engrossed in work and school but the cottage is never far from our thoughts. In January and February we imagine the snow capped cottage huddled among the pines waiting for our return.
By March we’re concentrating only on GETTING there. To open the cottage door for the first time in six months and imagine the echoes of last summers card games. To look for buds on the pussy willow branches. To breathe in the smell of the season waking up.
Getting back to the cottage is the joy of rediscovering all that is familiar, comforting, an inventory of memories. The wonderful sameness of our special place. Our link to the past and all the people who loved the Lake before us – and all those who will love it after us.
Every year has it’s own unique reference:
The year we found baby bunnies in the woodpile.
The year we learned to swim or water ski.
The year we could paddle the canoe without the long rope attached to the dock.
The year we had our first crush – on a boy in a plaid lumber jacket – or on a long haired girl wearing cut-off jean shorts.
The year we first brought our children to the Lake, dipping their baby toes in the water – a christening of sorts.
The year the raccoons opened all the plastic Easter eggs and ate all the treats inside.
The year it snowed on Thanksgiving.
The year of the best Northern Lights show.<