Opening words . . .

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Going Down Haine

“Going down Haine” was a short excursion that our family felt obligated to do every summer. It just had to be done. Things had to be checked out down there, or so we told ourselves and each other to cover for the excuse that the journey to get there was just too fun to ignore. Who went with us was very important, also. It could make or break the trip.

Haine was the location of an old abandoned village. An old bridge going nowhere remained to remind us that once people lived and traveled there. Climbing down Haine’s rocky hill in our car and making it back up in the same day was nothing short of a miracle, every year. We held our breath, while bumping down over the rocks. I remember wondering and Mom would voice my thoughts, “What if we meet another car?” Dad, who thought the possibility most unlikely would reply, “Well, who else would be down here?” I’d breathe a sigh of relief when we made it around the bend.

When we arrived at the old rail bridge and the car actually stopped without nose-diving into the stream, we would start our plea to go swimming. Danny and I would have to listen to Mom tell her “nearly drowned story” first, but once that was out of the way, Dad let us go in.

One particular summer, on one of our regular trips to Lower Hainesville for Mom to visit our grandmother, she refused the opportunity to do the trip with us. She said she didn’t want to go all the way down there. I never thought it was that far, but we decided to go anyway since Uncle Bob Bragdon was offering to take us. I can still hear Mom warning Dad to not let “those kids” go in swimming, as if we weren’t standing within ear shot. “They’ll drown or break their necks.” She did sometimes confuse the potential disaster with the particular episode.

Anyway, getting back to going down Haine - Dad, my brother and I decided to go with Uncle Bob, and we could go in his car. Bob assured us it was a good car – it had a small radiator problem, sometimes, but nothing really to worry about. It could get us down Haine, no problem.
Getting down wasn’t any problem; the brakes were good and we arrived in tack. We commenced to check things out around the bridge – read the most recent graffiti on the inside of the bridge, which there was very little of, and then started scouting out the woods.

Everything really looked just fine, just like it always did, each year. Feeling good about how things were in Haine, we decided we’d better get back home – Mom would think we had drowned or broken our necks somehow. The fear of it did become the norm.

So Uncle Bob started the car and next we were back around the bend. Hearing the tires scatter the rocks, we were on our way. It must have been the climb and the heat – it was a very hot day, but that temperamental radiator decided to act up, right now at this point. Bob saw the steam and I was going to say, “pulled over,” but there was no room or need to pull over – we just stopped.

As unusual as it sounds, Bob’s car always had a good supply of bubble gum, apparently an essential in any car’s dashboard and in this case, it came in really handy.

Bob distributed the bubble gum and we all started chewing. We needed enough to cover the leak. We chewed and chewed – Danny and I enjoyed the flavour and then spat out and handed the chewed chunks over to Uncle Bobby who promptly added each piece as a contribution to cover the leak. Then, before we knew it, we were off again.

The bubble gum served its purpose, but for short bits of time. We would need to stop, chew some more and Uncle Bobby would replug the leak. Overall, it worked. After several chewing sessions, we made it up the hill and back to Hainesville. Mom saw that we had not drowned, our necks weren’t broken and our trip to Haine was done for the summer. It was all a big relief - again.