Zinsser on Friday

How to Get to Our House

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By William Zinsser


 

That bustling noise you hear is the sound of people getting their summer house ready for all the friends they invited to come for a weekend in July or August. You do remember that you promised Bob and Linda that this was the year you’d make it to Moose Lake for sure? You don’t? It was the phone call where you tried to tell Bob that you hadn’t done any canoeing or hiking since you were a kid and Bob said, “Don’t worry, it will all come back to you.”

Actually the hardest part of the weekend will be to find Bob and Linda. Summer people have a special gift for buying or renting a cottage on an unmarked lane in a village that seems to have no living inhabitants who could answer a question. In Maine it will be necessary at some point to cross a body of water, often in a beloved craft skippered by a beloved old salt affectionately known as Cap’n Andy. The schedule for that ferry service exists only in Cap’n Andy’s head. Global positioning, that miraculous savior of the formerly lost, still isn’t miraculous enough to find such hideaways.

But fear not! Any day now you’ll receive a sheet of directions from Bob and Linda. You can count on it to say something like this:

DIRECTIONS

Follow signs to East Finsdale. If there aren’t any signs to East Finsdale you should look for signs to Oakbrook or Peat Junction which are bigger but you don’t want to go as far as Oakbrook or Peat Junction because you want to make a sharp left onto Route 134 (or 143?). It’s one of those towns you can go right through without knowing it but you’ll see a funny old general store and I think the road you want is two roads after that not counting one that looks like a road but only goes to the dump. Stay on Route 134 (or 143?) until you come to I-28 which is an interstate you want to get on going left so what you do is cross over it and turn right. Sounds complicated but it’ll become perfectly clear. Continue on I-28 for about 16 miles until Exit 39 where you go right. All you have to remember is to turn left at the STOP sign and go back under the interstate in the direction you were coming from. In other words go inland and not toward the water.

Drive approximately 8¼ miles always bearing left even though some roads that go off to the right look like the main road but they’re not. Stay on Raccoon Ridge Road and the only thing to remember is that Raccoon Ridge Road becomes Possum Hollow Road at the second or third fork so if you lose it you’re not lost (I hope!). Keep going through West Goshen, Goshen, Old Goshen, East Goshen and Goshen Depot until you come to the fourth overhead traffic light unless you count the two yellow blinkers. You can’t miss the turn because five roads come together in a kind of a spoke and the one you want has a little wooden sign with a wigwam that says CAMP WANKAKEE. If you pass Ed’s Grinders after a few miles you took the wrong road.

Now here’s where it gets a little confusing. Near the bottom of a long hill but not the shorter hill that you go down first you’ll see a white house set back from the road and just beyond it there’s a gravel lane that you wouldn’t notice unless you were looking for it. Go down that lane 2.6 miles until you pass a bunch of lobster pots and pretty soon after that you’ll see MOLLY’S ANTIQUES. Drive around in back to Molly’s barn where you think the road is going to end but it divides and continues past a field where you’ll see some cows (except at night!) which is the one you should take and not the one with the sign that says BAIT. You’ll pass a lot of mailboxes and you should start looking for ours. Bob keeps promising to paint it but you know Bob! We’re a gray shingle house but you can’t see it from the road so just park anywhere and look for a little path made of clamshells and we’ll have the latchstring out! If you hear a dog barking that’s just Wittgenstein.

See you soon!!!

BOB & LINDA

William Zinsser is the author of 18 books, including On Writing Well.


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