The Long Drive
By David Cook
We took a job recently that is a bit outside of our normal territory. The long drive was justified because the request came from an established client, and we love satisfied customers. They had just purchased a vacation property and needed new entry doors right away.
Now this is not a job that we would normally get real excited about, replacing two entry doors. And it is embarrassing to admit that it stretched over 3 days. Iâ€™m convinced that there is an unwritten law that governs the likelihood of forgotten tools and simple oversights in direct relation to how far you must travel to realize the importance of these items. Unwritten, lying in wait and unforgiving.
The reason we donâ€™t normally travel this far is the drive time. But what really made it all worthwhile in this case wasâ€¦. the drive time. Late September, back country roads near the Oswegatchie River and the job itself was on the waterfront of Pleasant Lake near Gouverneur, NY
Driving up Route 11 can be rather mundane for the most part. There is the big sheep herd outside of Antwerp, with a goat herd on an adjoining pasture. Thatâ€™s alright in my book. But turning off the highway you go around a curve and up, then down a hill and suddenly youâ€™re â€œout in the countryâ€. Itâ€™s almost imperceptible how your vehicle slows on its own, somehow sensing that youâ€™ve left the rat race.
Itâ€™s a long drive, long enough for the scenery to work on your senses and become known. Thatâ€™s when you first notice a little color in the leaves as they start to turn. The fields are scattered with big round bales of hay hoping to get collected soon. A red tail hawk perches atop a telephone pole and scans the field below. Heâ€™s intent on lunch and hardly notices you drive by.
Eventually your left turn arrives and you leave the painted country highway. Youâ€™ll make several road changes along the way and each one gets a bit narrower. Mores woods, smaller fields, and now and again wild turkeys. One group seemed headed up by a frantic mother hen trying to get the flock out of the road. A bearded tom saunters across. It is his road after all.
Then there is the dead end. You did see the sign announcing the eventuality just past the last intersection, but still, are these directions correct? Ah, to the right by the sign post remarking â€œprivate, owners onlyâ€ and it is dirt and gravel road cutting into the forest. Up and down, twisting around this way and that as you near the lake. My truck is a standard shift 5 speed that hardly gets out of 2nd gear on this lane.
But thereâ€™s another turn, left and up a steep but short hill whose crest leaves you hoping thereâ€™s a downside where you canâ€™t see. You hardly recover when faced with a hairpin curve leading into a gully. Drive around another curve and straight across a swamp. Across the way and up the next hill, more twisting and soon enough youâ€™re at the driveway. At least you hope itâ€™s the driveway. This time itâ€™s a grassy road, another blind hillcrest followed by a sharp curve. On one side rises a steep rock wall best described as a small cliff. On the other, a nearly as steep drop off thatâ€™s home to trees, brush and more rocks.
Rounding that last curve it is truly gratifying to see there is plenty of room to turn around. Then the view comes into focus.
Pleasant Lake is a small lake set in a forest and ringed about Â¾â€™s with summer homes comfortably spaced. The rest of the shoreline is part of a State preserve and wonâ€™t be developed. No more than a handful of boats were on the water any time we were there. For a little bit there is no rest of the world, no wars or suffering, mortal troubles having no place here. Thereâ€™s just this lake shielded by serenity, where the waters are calm and the fish bring their own bait.
On the way home the last day there is time to reflect. Certainly the job didnâ€™t go as planned, should have been done the first day. Of course we would have had to skip the getting lost part. And there is that unwritten law that governs forgetting tools in direct proportion to distance away from home base. Or is that true? All I know is that for a little while, there was just this place.