Scooter and Malachi

by Nicholas Hall

Chapter 1

"Behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountain, skipping upon the hills"

(Song of Solomon)

Every life has a beginning, even one already alive!

The summer thunder and rain storm finally abated its fury; the woods, in this darkest of nights, now weeping the dampness from their leaves, needles, and branches, the wind lessening to a cooling breeze, and the boys were quiet once again! Padding my way back to our bedroom, after sharing our bed briefly with two very frightened, one eight and the other ten, year old boys, calming their fears enough, even in the midst of all of the booming, banging, and swaying of trees, to lead them back to their own bedroom, and sitting with them until the storms ceased and they fell asleep, and crawled into our own bed again. I snuggled up against him, his body relaxed, beautiful, lithe of frame, but well developed with the physique of a distance runner and dancer, warm and comforting to me.

I settled against him, laughed softly to myself as his arm came around me, drawing me even closer. I couldn't help but feel one very large and distinctly male part of him was pleased to greet me! Snuggling my butt up against his stiffness, allowing it to nudge the place he wanted it to be, my smaller body fitting comfortably in Malachi's embrace! At five foot ten inches plus in height, he was a good four to six inches taller than me and at one hundred forty pounds, twenty-five to thirty pounds heavier. My dad is only five foot nine inches tall and mom only five foot two inches at the most!

I inherited my height and body structure from my parents, ending up between them at five foot five, my black hair color from each of them, only it was wavier than the tight curls like dad; either way I kept it short, as did my five younger brothers. My color is lighter than dad's but only slighter darker than mom. Malachi's natural tan has a Mediterranean cast and only slightly contrasts with mine.

Sighing, I relaxed in his arms.

"Finally get the boys settled down?" he breathed erotically into my ear while reaching lower with his hand to cup my balls and now stiffening cock!

Squirming just a little, delighted, even though the hour was late, or early depending on how you wished to define it, he wanted to play, I responded, "Why, in the short time we've had them with us, do they always seek me and not their brother?"

"Maybe," Malachi replied softly while circling his hand around my arousal, "because they love you as much as I do!"

Mischael, age ten and Zacharias, age eight, entered our lives unexpectedly and almost from day one, they attached themselves to me as securely as a suckling babe to its mother's teat!

Pushing back, I accepted entry of the large, long part of Malachi which defined him as all male, stud, lover, or full of the potent hormone testosterone, lodging it well tight within me, sighing my satisfaction only when I was stretched, plugged full, and the soft hairs of his crotch tickled my pert little butt!

How much my life changed when I first met Malachi Duranleau, I thought as he began the back and forth motion we both loved so well!

Dad and Mom's decision to relocate from our home in Madison to the property on Crystal Lake, near Rockport, located on Pelican Lake, after Grandpa Parker's death the summer I turned sixteen, was a surprise; a welcome surprise, but also sad for my brothers and me. It meant leaving our schools, our friends, a university town, and the cultural activities found there. It was Dad's intention to sell our home, his law business, and move us. However, as a wise man once said, "the best laid plans of mice and men," seemed to best describe the situation. The house didn't sell right away, Dad entered into a partnership with two of my uncles, he opened an office in Rockport, and we moved. The rest of us spent the time with Mom here on the lake, mowing lawn, tending garden, fishing, and swimming!

There was an older attorney in Rockport who'd expressed to Dad a couple of years before, a desire to retire if he could find someone to take over the practice. Dad made him an offer and purchased the practice. Dad lived here and attended high school in Rockport at Rockville High school, named after the two towns in the district, Rockport and Porterville, so was fairly well known. He didn't see any problem with us enrolling and attending school here either, although he did confess he was somewhat apprehensive when he first enrolled in high school here himself; black and with a leg and a half would and did make him an object of curiosity!

"Not only did I get strange looks the first day of school," he explained to the six of us, "since I was the only black kid in school, but when I took physical education, the mouths really dropped when the other guys saw I was missing part of my left leg and used a prosthesis. They didn't have an indoor pool like they do now, it was added a few years ago, so there was no option for me but to take part in those activities as best I could."

He wasn't much of an athlete, except for swimming, but he tried his best. He admitted basketball wasn't too bad if he could just shoot a basket, track was more than tedious, soccer was most difficult, volleyball wasn't bad, but he could really hit a baseball or softball, but was slow in getting to the bases. In other words, he was, at best, average!

"I'll never forget the first time I hobbled into the showers on my crutches," he laughed. "The school installed a couple of hand safety bars in the shower room so I could hold on while I showered. They were under the first shower head just inside the door so I wouldn't have far to walk. My leg or lack of it certainly got a lot of visual attention. After the first couple of times the stares stopped and the other boys began to be a little friendlier."

Dad did admit there were times it took a great deal of patience when dealing with some of the racial slurs some of the more "red necked" people would spout, sometimes not too quietly, but he stuck with it. He never said if he had to respond physically, but knowing he grew up in Milwaukee, there was no doubt in my mind if he did, he'd won, leg or no leg!

I wasn't all that certain and, as I found out, neither were my brothers, we wouldn't meet up with some opposition and racial prejudice when we entered school. Six multi-racial boys, a mixture of black, white, and Asian, were bound to cause eyes to roll I thought. I had one other minor addition to the mix; I was gay and my family knew it and my friends in Madison knew it. I wasn't all that certain how a gay, brown boy would be accepted in Rockville High School.

I spoke to Dad about it and he advised, "I wouldn't go broadcasting anything until you've scoped out the territory and even then I'd be very, very careful. No sense bringing on problems you can avoid. Even a fish wouldn't get in trouble if it kept its mouth shut!"

My next youngest brother, Joseph Thomas (Seth) Dickenson Parker, so nicknamed by Grandpa because he couldn't pronounce his first name saying "Jo Seth" instead, age fifteen and entering tenth grade, and I decided to share a bedroom. I'd moved into Grandpa Parker's bedroom after he died; it just made me feel closer to him and no one objected. I was pleased Seth wanted to share; we both were entering a new high school and it gave us the opportunity to commiserate on events. A new high school, new people, new teachers, and a whole different culture from what we were leaving in Madison was going to an adjustment. Rockport was no comparison; there was no State Street with all its fun, frivolity and nonsense; no home university football games, or Halloween parades! Nope, it'd be a big change. Having each other close by would be damned comforting we thought and we thought right!

Our first summer there was the first and only time we canceled the Parker Family Reunion! It was just too soon after Grandpa' death and we were busy trying to get settled into our new home. The rest of our large, extended family understood but we did start planning for the next summer. It was always a great time and gave us a chance to keep in contact with everyone on Grandpa's side.

I was given possession of Grandpa's pickup truck since I now had my driver's license. I could help chauffer the younger ones where ever they had to go, as well as run errands for Mom. Seth made it a point to ride "shotgun" every time he had the chance. If I scooched the seat as far forward as I could, raised it enough so I could look out over the steering wheel, I was able to reach the gas pedal and brake with my feet. I was good to go after that! I never realized until then how difficult it must've been for my mom to drive since she is shorter than me. She just coped and made adjustments, just like me!

Registration for new students was held and Dad and Mom accompanied us. Dad was familiar with the school, except for the new wing housing the pool. The pool was open for the public during the winter on weekends and after regular school hours, but not in the summer since there was a public beach on Pelican Lake and most of the other lakes had beaches as well. My brothers and I had only driven by the school complex housing grades Pre-K through grade twelve so we had no idea what the insides looked like.

Mom went to the elementary wing with James Alexander Dickenson Parker, age ten and enrolling in fifth grade, and Terrance Matthew Dickenson Parker, age eight and entering the third grade, to meet with the elementary guidance counselor and principal. Dad went with Aaron Jacob Dickenson Parker, age twelve and entering the seventh grade, Samuel Lawrence Dickenson Parker, age thirteen and entering the eighth grade, Seth, and me to the high school guidance counselor to register for middle school and high school. The counselor, Mr. Taylor, explained the middle school counselor wasn't in and he'd handle all of it, although the middle school had its own wing separate from the high school.

He was very welcoming, acknowledging Dad's attendance and graduation from Rockville High School, noting he arrived a several years after, and expressed his condolences on the loss of Grandpa, indicating he knew him very well and admired him greatly!

Settling down to business, he looked over our records carefully, quietly reviewing each one thoroughly but swiftly. Each time he opened a folder, his brow furled slightly, but he made no comment until he lay the last one on his desk.

"This may sound rather silly, Mr. Parker," he began addressing Dad, "but do all of your children have such long names?"

Dad simply nodded "yes" and offered no more in way of explanation.

If he thought Dad would give him a long, rambling explanation, he was mistaken. He'd soon find it true of the rest of us; we chattered like bluejays at home and with family but not around strangers or in public.

Evidently Dad's cryptic answer didn't seem to offend him since he returned his attention back to the four of us.

"I see you're all excellent students! There doesn't seem to be a grade below an 'A' for all of your course work in your transcripts. That's super!"

Dad smiled, swelling with pride of his sons' academic excellence, yet said nothing.

Speaking for all of us, I responded, speaking softly, "See, Sir, Dad and Mom and Grandpa Parker always said the mind of the young is like a fertile field to be planted, nurtured and allowed to grow. What you learn can never be taken away, only shared, like love, with others, so why wouldn't we do our best to make our parents and our brothers proud of us?"

I was suddenly overcome with embarrassment, my face flushing hot, thinking I'd spoken out of turn, offering more than what was asked and sought; perhaps revealing too much of myself and our family to a stranger, albeit he was a guidance counselor.

Mr. Taylor looked at me, as if in thought, finally offering, "I live across the lake from you and sometimes when I drive past the township cemetery I see Dr. Parker's pickup truck parked there and a young man sitting near his grave. I'm willing to bet that's you. Am I correct, Josiah?"

"Yes Sir, but I'm called 'Scooter'."

"Scooter?"

"Yes Sir; you see, Grandpa Parker nicknamed me!"

He looked at me again, a thoughtful frown on his forehead; "I used to see you there in past summers before your grandfather passed away, with him visiting Grant Hoffman's grave."

"Yes Sir," I responded, wondering where he was going with this.

Mr. Taylor looked at my name again, and speaking directly to me, said simply, "So you were named after your grandfather and Uncle Grant!" He coughed softly, caught his breath, and changed the subject to setting up our class schedules.

I wondered, briefly, at the time, how he knew that, but didn't ponder on it!

The next hour was spent in his office completing our schedules. We all were placed in advanced classes, where available, and in with better students when not. All of us were disappointed orchestra was not available, although Dad and Mom forewarned us it wasn't, but band was as well as vocal music, including choir.

Dad and Mom insisted our cultural development in the fine arts be just as relevant as our academic studies. Madison had unlimited opportunities to enjoy the fine arts and participate in them. We all played, including the youngest, at least one other instrument besides piano. Mom was an excellent pianist and taught all of us, patiently giving us lessons and sitting through our practice sessions. Dad, well he could sing quite well, but seldom did! Fortunately, we all played brass and woodwind, including flute so band would be fine. We also played other instruments, but we did that generally for home and family so we didn't mention that on our enrollment forms.

Our class schedules complete, Mr. Taylor decided it was time for a tour so he could acquaint us with the building, our hall lockers, and the rooms our classes would be held in. Mom, James, and Terrance were waiting for us in the outer office, since enrollment in elementary evidently didn't take as long, and decided to join us on the tour. We hadn't gone ten steps beyond the office doors, when Dad took over leading the tour, except for breaks when we were near our newly assigned hall lockers, pointing out the various classrooms we'd have and where he had classes when he was in high school. The band room, art department, vocal music room, the science department, the cafeteria and commons area the high school and the middle school shared, the field house where the gym was located and an indoor track, were pointed out, directing our attention to each. Reaching the indoor pool, he expressed his regrets it wasn't here when he was in school, but very pleased it was now.

He clearly was enjoying showing his sons the school he went to, pointing out his old locker, expressing surprise some of the teachers he'd had were still teaching, and, at one point, stopped and visited with two older custodians working in the hall trying to get the facility ready for the upcoming school year. The three of them laughed, shook hands, and the two gentleman welcomed him "home!"

With Dad leading the tour, Mr. Taylor had the opportunity to visit with Mom. I overheard him tell her,

"You certainly have a nice family, Mrs. Parker. Such a handsome, intelligent group of young men!"

She smiled thanking him, adding, "We're extremely proud of our boys!"

I was distracted from my eavesdropping when I heard Samuel call out, "Minx, where are you going?"

"I gotta pee," Terrance replied, holding his crotch as he hot-footed it toward a boys' restroom.

"Go with him!" Dad instructed Samuel.

Of course, the mere suggestion of a pee-break swelled the ranks of my siblings headed for the restroom, all complaining their bladders were full!

Mr. Taylor laughed softly, "Do all of your boys have nicknames, Mrs. Parker?"

"Oh yes!" she murmured with a small laugh, shaking her head with hopeless resignation. "Their Grandfather Parker nicknamed all of them. When he was alive, one day when Jed and I went to town, he watched the boys for us, as he always did when we were gone. He took them swimming since it was a nice day. Terrance was probably three maybe four at the time and was a very busy boy, if you know what I mean. When we came home, the boys and Dad Parker were all worn out, spread out over the living room floor, fast asleep. Terrance was cuddled up close on his grandfather's lap, absolutely exhausted. Dad woke, saw us, and when asked if they had a good time, he nodded, smiled, kissed Terrance on the head, commenting, 'this one's a mischievous little minx!' and it stuck with him. People seldom hear them use each other's nicknames in public however, the use is generally reserved for family only."

"How about Scooter?"

"Quite the opposite," Mom replied. "He prefers Scooter, don't you?" looking at me.

I nodded, smiled shyly, and looked down.

"Josiah honors his grandfather by bearing his name and celebrating the use of the nickname his grandfather bestowed on him, as any respectful Asian boy would," Mom continued respectfully and proudly.

I stepped away when I heard her comment, "He's so much like his grandfather and father; caring, gentle, quiet, and so, so intelligent!"

Dad and my brothers made a noisy exit from the boys restroom with James proclaiming, "E E E YU! That's gross, Boomer!"

Samuel, so named "Boomer" by Grandpa Parker because of his loud, nasty, and odiferous farts, was the last to emerge, a big, almost triumphant grin on his face. There was no doubt what happened in the boy's restroom and Boomer seemed very proud of the fact he'd cleared the room so fast.

Dad just shook his head in mild disgust, but knowing how hard they tried, it was something they'd never break him of doing! Grandpa once speculated if Boomer could fart the Star Spangled Banner in its entirety with enough volume to carry throughout the Super Bowl.

A week before school was to begin, Dad had a small, yet large enough for all six of us, bus stop shelter delivered from a local lumber yard and placed at the end of our long lane near the county road. There were two benches against the sidewalls, windows large enough to see out but not large enough for someone to get in, on three sides, a sturdy door with a small window in it, a strong bolt latch on the door, and a two-way radio transmitter attached to the back wall.

"If you should ever feel unsafe or need us, all you have to do is press the button on the radio and it will sound an alarm in the house, bringing us as fast as we can go," he explained.

Dad was concerned, not only because we lived so far out in the woods, relatively isolated except during the summer when there were more tourists, cabin, and lake people about, but because of his profession as an attorney and the fact we weren't the poorest people in the area, someone might take it upon themselves to do us harm. Grandpa Parker was a shrewd investor and so was Dad; in addition, Dad benefited from Grandpa's estate by being the only heir.

"I hope to hell you never have to use it!" he stated emphatically.

Two weeks after school started, on a bright, sunny, September Saturday morning, I drove to the township cemetery on the other side of the lake to visit Grandpa's and Uncle Grant's grave site. Sitting on the grass near their headstone, I was in the process of telling them about the new school and how things seemed to going fairly well.

"So far," I murmured softly, "nobody's made any racial remarks, made fun of me because of my age, or called me queer, yet! Maybe because Dad went to school here and everyone knew you guys."

I was just getting ready to leave, having told both of them goodbye for now and how much I loved them and missed them, when I was startled by a voice behind me.

"I think many of us miss your grandfather, Scooter!"

Turning around slowly, wary of who was addressing me, I saw Mr. Taylor and another man.

Mr. Taylor greeted me with a smile; "Hi Scooter! Although he was your grandfather and you loved him dearly, you weren't the only one who misses him!"

I suppose I should've been jubilant seeing one of my teachers standing before me extolling his gratitude for my grandfather's benevolence and friendship, but I'd just met Mr. Taylor and had no idea who the other man was with him. I could only think I was alone, small of stature, relatively defenseless against two grown men, and about fifty yards from my truck!

Smiling nervously, I nodded and mumbled some sort of greeting as I began walking slowly toward the lane separating this part of the cemetery and leading to my truck, parked near the closed cemetery gate.

"Where are you going, Scooter?" the other man asked politely. "You have no need to fear us."

"The hell I don't!" I shouted zipping past them faster than two horny boys pulling up their pants after being caught wanking each other's peckers by the preacher out for a walk!

I was in the truck, doors locked, and starting to tear down the county road before they ever left the grave site. The last I saw of them, they were standing with mouths agape, watching me tear ass out of there.

The few miles around the lake from the cemetery to our house passed quickly as I rolled over and over in my mind whether or not to tell my folks of the incident and my fears, rather real or imagined! I surmised it'd be the right thing to do to tell them, in a non-threatened manner, who I saw and what they said, but I chose not to. Instead, I tried to behave as I would any other time I visited Grandpa and Uncle Grant's graves. I thought I was home free until after lunch when my brothers and I were swimming. We were all too aware our swimming days in the lake were coming rapidly to an end with fall creeping up and we weren't about to waste a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon.

Tired, Seth and I left the others, told Aaron to keep an eye on the little ones, and walked to the house to dry off and get dressed. Seth, dressed quickly and left our bedroom. I was just pulling on a shirt when Seth scampered back in, breathless, eyes big as moose turds;

"Scooter, guess what?"

"Minx shit in the lake!"

He frowned, tilted his head, responding, "I don't think so, only I wouldn't put it past him. Anyway, Mr. Taylor and another man are on the porch talking to Mom and Dad."

"Oh, shit!" I moaned aloud.

"And the other guy with Mr. Taylor," he exclaimed, "has a gold badge on his belt and another hanging on a cord around his neck!"

"Well, double shit!"

"And you know what else?"

I expected him to tell me a SWAT team was standing in the yard.

"He has a gun strapped to his waist too!"

As far as I was concerned, it was just as bad!

"Dad said I was supposed to come and get you."

I sighed, resigned to the fact I was probably going to be arrested for what crime I didn't have a clue of committing and end up sharing a cell with someone who wanted to be my personal proctologist!

Mind you, I was in no hurry to race to the porch and suffer my fate, so I sort of took my time. Perhaps the cop thought I was driving recklessly when I tore down the road from the cemetery. But they did say they wanted to talk to me; maybe about something I did in school. I couldn't think of anything I did, however! Perhaps it was something I didn't do?

Just a couple of days previously I saw a boy piss in one of the drinking fountains. I probably should've reported him, but I didn't know his name, he was bigger than me, rather mean looking, and glared at me as I tried not to notice. Mom didn't raise no dummy; I value my life! Besides, I didn't use that fountain anyway, it was too close to the teacher's workroom.

Sure enough, stepping out on the porch, there stood Mr. Taylor and the guy with the gun and badge talking to Mom and Dad. By the looks of Mom and Dad, they didn't seem upset, in fact they were laughing! Dad motioned me over to them and, although not a little boy anymore, I felt relieved when Dad slipped his arm around me.

"Scooter," he said, "I believe you already know Mr. Taylor."

I nodded and shifted my eyes to the other man. He was about the same height as Mr. Taylor, probably ten pounds heavier, and more physically fit however. Not really a bad looking guy, but he did carry a gun and wear a badge, making him look more menacing; at least in my inexperienced opinion. I was familiar with the Liaison Officer in school in Madison, campus police at UW-Madison, Capital Police, and City of Madison police, not some county Mounty tucked away in the north woods.

"Scooter," Mr. Taylor began, "this is my partner, my husband, Cayden Allison. Cayden is with the county and works for the Sheriff's Department and Social Services as a Child Protection Officer. We owe you our most sincere apology! We never intended to frighten you! Honestly, we really, really just wanted to visit with you concerning what your grandfather meant to us. May we do that now?"

I nodded slowly and somewhat suspiciously.

"I mentioned before," Mr. Taylor began, "I live across the lake from you. What I didn't say was Cayden and I own 'Cayden's Lakeside Cottages. We met each other and own the cottages with your grandfather's assistance in the purchase."

Mr. Taylor, new to the school district and Cayden Allison, new to the county, were invited to a gathering of new employees of the district and the county at Grandpa Parker's house. He served on both the school board and the county board of supervisors during the time Daddy left home, except for summers and breaks, was attending the university, married to mom, and started his own law practice in Madison. I would've been six or seven at the time and had no clue what he did other than be my grandpa!

Grandpa made a point of introducing them to each other over drinks and food at the house and let love take its course.

"Your grandfather and some others in our little community of like fellows made us feel welcome and so much at home around them. The gatherings at his house, here where you now live, became more private and frequent as he grew selective who he invited. We discovered a small, but loyal gay community here and a place where we could express our love for each other openly and without fear of retribution or bigoted remarks."

When the small resort with the four cottages and main home came up for sale, Grandpa Parker arranged for a low interest loan from a loyal banker friend and loaned Mr. Taylor and Mr. Allison the down payment to make the purchase. They worked hard remodeling all of the cabins and the house. Currently they have a steady and loyal client base. Since Mr. Taylor is off during the summer, it is a perfect fit in more ways than one for both of Mr. Taylor and Cayden.

"We paid off the note at the bank and your grandfather two years ago. When we say we miss him terribly, we do and now you know why!"

Nodding, I understood exactly what he meant. I took a deep breath, saying, "Mr. Taylor and Officer Allison, I apology. I overreacted, but in Madison where we're from, there are some people who "just want to talk to you' or 'show you their puppy' and things can get pretty nasty or deadly for a young boy or girl! There are others, mainly people of color, who sometimes don't see the police as there to 'protect' them, so I hope you understand why I reacted the way I did!"

They invited me to stop over sometime and see the cottages, so the next Saturday Seth, Samuel, Aaron, and I drove over. It was "turn around day" for them, when one set of guests left and another group of guests moved in. They'd be busy, but didn't hesitate to have us over to visit.

We arrived shortly after lunch. We couldn't find them when we arrived! I cursed myself wishing I'd called before we left. I rang the front doorbell and after receiving no answer, Seth, following Aaron's curiosity seeking nosiness, wandered around to the side of the building in the direction the cottages were located, spotted the office and a sign on the door proclaiming, "cleaning cottages!"

Of course, this prompted us to continue our exploratory walk down the driveway toward the cluster of four cottages. The cabins were welcoming in appearances, neat and tidy on the outside, painted in bright but not garish colors which would distract from the natural beauty of the grounds and lake, all of which presented a friendly, warm, and quiet invitation to guests arriving for a week of fishing, boating, relaxing, or nature study. A small dock with a sixteen foot aluminum boat equipped with at twenty-five horse motor tied up fronted each cabin shoreside.

A laundry cart with cleaning supplies, fresh bed linens, and complimentary items, along with a large hamper for soiled linens was setting in front of Cabin One. We could hear a vacuum cleaner running inside the cabin. Peeking my head inside, I shouted a "hello" and was met by Mr. Taylor stepping from the bathroom. His hands were encased with surgical gloves and he was carrying a can of spray cleaner in one hand and a sponge in the other. Almost at the same time Cayden Allison stepped from one of the bedrooms with an armful of sheets and pillow cases.

"Hi guys," Mr. Taylor said in greeting, since my brothers now crowded in behind me. "We're just finishing up in this cabin and have one more to go before we're ready for our next guests. Hope you don't mind if we visit while were work. We're a bit hard pressed for time!"

"No problem," Samuel responded, "anything we can do to help?"

Before either man could answer, he continued, "Since we didn't meet Mr. Allison, I'm Samuel;" turning to each of his brothers, pointed out Joseph, "but we call him Seth," and Aaron," but didn't tell them we called him "Buzz! "You already know my oldest brother, Scooter."

Cayden Allison nodded and smiled at each, nodding and apologized for not shaking hands since he was in the midst of cleaning and had the gloves on. Mr. Taylor quickly acknowledged they could use to some help, so we just pitched in.

Cleaning rooms and making beds was nothing new to us; Mom made certain we all knew how and expected it of us. Six boys in the house was a lot of laundry to do, along with house cleaning and bedrooms to keep up and all we could do made her work load lighter. We did it because she and dad loved us and we loved them.

I can remember, when Terrence, "The Minx" was probably two or so, and Mom was fussing with him, holding him, cooing to him after he'd done something he shouldn't have and he'd been scolded for it, trying to calm his tears, telling him how much she loved him, but not to do it again, when Grandpa Parker shook his head, saying,

"Leah, I've watched you with all of your boys and I swear, if one of them crapped his pants, you'd say, good job, but you'll have to go clean up; they'd cry because they were ashamed for disappointing you!"

Time slipped by we helped them finish Cabin One and Cabin Two and became acquainted with Mr. Allison and Mr. Taylor, now as neighbors and fast becoming friends. We learned more of their friendship with Grandpa, of them personally (to a point), and of "Cayden's Lakeside Cottages." The cottages were open from the first weekend of May until around the fifteenth of October. We also learned of the affect Grandpa had on the school and in the community. He established a scholarship fund at the school in his name and Uncle Grant's; the Grant Hoffman/Josiah Parker Scholarship in addition to a significant donation to the new community library also in his and Uncle Grant's name and to the new, small, medical clinic building in town. Grandpa Parker was well thought of in Rockport and the surrounding area.

Over the years, many high school boys and girls learned how to tap his maple trees, collect the sap, helped boil it to syrup, and shared in the profits when it was sold. It would be different this year since dad and us boys would be taking over the project.

After the first Saturday we helped with the cabins, whenever Mr. Taylor or Cayden needed help, they'd call the house and one of us would respond. It gave us a little extra money, cemented our friendship with our neighbors across the lake and gave us experience living in a sparsely populated area where neighbors knew each other and helped, contrasting with the larger city we came from.

Winter was different for us; it wasn't a trip to the north woods for Christmas to visit Grandpa Parker or a weekend to cross country ski or ice fish. We soon learned living here was starkly different from visiting; it was coping with cold weather, snow, short days and long nights. It was unlike any I'd experienced; accustomed to having the city plow the streets and a short driveway to clean up and sidewalks, after a three or four inch snowfall plowing snow with the tractor and snow thrower was totally different; as Grandpa Parker put it once, "snow, balls deep on a tall man"!

Temperatures were subzero on more than one occasion, making moving snow from the lane, in front of the garage, the parking area in front of house, and in front of the storage shed, as well as keeping a path to the woodshed open, more than just tedious; it was sometimes dangerous. We soon learned and adapted well. Besides, the temperatures made good ice for fishing and skating, and snow made for good skiing.

None of us, including Mom seemed to object, although there were times she did miss the cultural activities in Madison. She and Dad would slip away once in a while for a weekend in Madison and leave me in charge. There were neighbors we could summon if we needed help and they trusted us.

The end of March and early April, we helped Dad tap the maple trees and prepare for "sugaring off". Once the days warmed and the nights stayed cold, the sap in the trees flowed into the containers. We collected them and hauled the sap to the "sugar shack" where the sap was boiled down until it reached the right consistency for syrup. Our first season we cooked and bottled fifty gallon of syrup! At eighty dollars a gallon, it made all of it worthwhile when split six ways!

Life changed for me after Easter however!

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