This Saturday morning I slept in. I knew I didn’t have to get up for anything except a tennis lesson at one o’clock. When I finally rolled out of bed at eleven, I stumbled downstairs to get breakfast. Today it was hard-boiled eggs and toast. I ate thankfully, for I was hungry, as I often am in the morning. After I had my fill, I wandered upstairs and remembered I had homework. I had to read, do a geography worksheet, and write a flashback piece. I sat and thought about what I would write, and eventually went back to my delicious breakfast. Then I remembered a certain day not too long ago, when I did a certain thing that I’ll never forget . . . and ate a certain breakfast of hard-boiled eggs.
It was a chilly morning, as the mornings in the Adirondack Mountains so often are, and the moon was full and bright. Beep, beep, beep, beep . . . “Oy! Stupid alarm clock.” I snuggled farther down into my covers. BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP. “All right, all right!” I turned it off. I relished that last moment under my covers, and made a brave dash out of my bed, and fairly leapt into my jeans, two shirts, two sweatshirts, and heavy socks. I shivered. Yes, it was a cold morning. It was also four-thirty AM! I did about ten jumping jacks to get my body heat up and blood moving. I streaked for the bathroom where I quickly brushed my teeth, and pulled my hair up into a messy ponytail. I jumped out in a minute and laced up my hiking boots. I climbed the stairs two at a time and found three other people in the kitchen, all looking slightly fatigued. The first was my mother, who was dumping hot water and tea bags into the thermos. The second was my grandmother, who was hurriedly packing our breakfast into a couple of backpacks. The third was my grandfather, who was puttering around trying to make himself useful, and generally getting in the way. It was quite a hustle and bustle with a lot of shushing to Grandpa because he was “surely going to wake Bill,” my dad—the lazybones!—who couldn’t pry himself out of bed at that hour. Soon I pushed everyone out the door, whether they were ready or not. It was five already, and we wanted to get to our special destination in time. We piled into the car and drove off.
We had all been staying in my grandparents’ house, their summer house. We love that house. It is so big that sometimes all eight of my cousins and my aunts and uncles stay there for a little while. The house is on a lake called Piseco Lake in the small town of Piseco, New York. At one end of the lake is “The Club.” That’s what all the old-timers and those who have been going there all their lives call it. Its fancy name is “The Irondequoit Inn.” It has a tennis court, a big field full of grasshoppers, four cabins that are rented, lots of rooms, and a beach where we swim and fool around. About a half mile out on the water is an island, which—very originally—we call “The Island.” It is a very nice island with a twisty narrow path through it and one small beach with a sharp drop-off. Mountains, some small, some big, and one called Panther, surround the lake. A road rings it too, and on that road our car was speeding along about five-fifteen that morning.
There is a small dirt parking lot on the side of the road. We pulled into it. After unloading the car of all our gear, we started the ascent. We had flashlights to light our way, for it was still dark. We climbed and climbed. On the way, I found out that we were doing something that Mom did when she was my age, but not since, and something that Grandma had done when she was eleven, and again when Mom was my current age. We concentrated on the path, for it was easy to wander into the forest if you weren’t paying attention. I led the group, acting as “McDuff” or so my dad often says. It started to get a little lighter out, and we nervously looked over toward the eastern horizon and walked more quickly. Up near the top, I had to turn off the flashlight from time to time and stick it in my pocket so I could clamber up the rocks. Though not at this time of day, I had climbed this mountain many times, and I knew the tricks of the trail, where not to step because it is often muddy, and which trees are sturdy enough to hang onto.
Suddenly, we came out onto a big flat rock on the top of the mountain. We sat down, exhausted. We opened up the thermos, and poured tea to warm ourselves. Grandma opened the bread bag and out came cinnamon-sugar-and-butter sandwiches. She opened the last bag, and eight hard-boiled eggs emerged. We ate, pouring bits of salt from the little packets on our eggs and catching pieces of crumbly yolk in our laps. Around six-ten, the sun started to rise. A brisk wind blew up, and we huddled together to keep warm. Then a sliver of brilliant peach-colored light poked out from behind the horizon. The light grew. Gray rocks and dark green pines began to take on color. The breeze softened as the darkness disappeared. We watched the mist swirl, uncurl, and disintegrate, as if by magic. As the mist went, the lake below and its forested surroundings revealed themselves. Around seven, it was all over, and we moseyed on down Panther Mountain with a wonderful memory of a sunrise and hard-boiled eggs in our minds.