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Suzanne Tyson

I was sitting at my computer today, attempting to think about what I would like to write about next, when the phone began to ring several times in a row. The television set climbed in volume a few times, the dog begged to go out, and the cat begged to come in. My daughter and her boyfriend wandered through, as did my son and mother. I confess I was becoming  more aggravated with each interruption. I retreated for a short time to my room where I just ‘chilled out’ as my children would say.

I was thinking about my childhood, and how uncomplicated life used to seem back then; and to be honest, I was also contemplating my chances of running away from home. While on this train of thought, the stories my father used to tell me as a child about Noah John Rondeau came to mind, because that is exactly what he did.

Mr. Rondeau was a hermit who lived in the backwoods of the Adirondack Mountains of New York, living off the land and the waters of Cold River. The story is told he was born and raised in New York City, fell in love with a young woman, and was sadly left at the altar on his wedding day. Jilted and heartbroken, he banished himself to the woods to live out his life away from the rest of the human race. Rondeau, as the family called him, lived entirely off the land. Fishing and hunting were his means of survival.

My grandfather, Dr. C.V. Latimer, and his three sons - including Dad - were avid fishermen and hunters. Although Rondeau did not care for most humanity, he befriended my grandfather, so my family would pack the family’s model T Ford and make the three to four day trip along the rough dirt roads to Rondeau’s camp to spend a week or two. Quite a trip in the thirties! Especially if you are traveling from the southern portion of New York only a few miles from Pennsylvania.

While there, my family, who had all the luxuries a home offered at the time, would live alongside Rondeau. Traps would be cared for,  trout
fished for dinner, a repair or two to be done to the hut where they laid their heads at night, or perhaps meat had to be prepared for the long, cold winter. Work was daily life!

As a young child, I had always wondered why my family would choose to spend their vacation with this man. Money was definitely not a problem. They could have spent their summers anywhere else in a fancy hotel, if they desired to. They could have easily toured Europe or anywhere else in the world. Instead they chose to go to the middle of ‘nowhere,’ as some would say.

Unfortunately, my father has passed away, and I will never have the opportunity to question him, but it did dawn on me today perhaps they favored and cherished their time in the backwoods of the Adirondacks for the pure peace of it. I imagine they found solace in the woods without interruptions, except for the occasional call of an eagle or a deer passing through the camp or a fish jumping out of the clear waters of the river. Perhaps listening to the trees and watching the filtering of the sunlight as they found their way down a path to set traps was not work, but pleasure. Perhaps the companionship of working together to thatch a roof or dry meat was what brought my grandfather close to his sons. Perhaps fishing together with quiet conversation encouraged them to share their thoughts and feelings. Perhaps the inconveniences of life in the woods were minor compared to the convenience of having God’s hand so close they could reach out to Him and touch Him by way of the nature around them.

The lesson I have learned today is clear to me. My family is peace. My family should not be excluded from my life and especially from my writing, regardless of how many interruptions they swing my way. Every deep emotion I have comes from them; my love, feeling of companionship, my hopes for the future, and, yes, peace. Because without them, I would have none of these things. Without these things, I would lose my desire to write, and I would lose my desire to continue. They are my refuge from the rest of the world, and I don’t have to travel in a model T for three or four days to reach that wonderful refuge. I know I’m a very fortunate woman, and I have promised myself that in the future, I will try to be more thankful for all my interruptions.

Thanks Dad! Thanks God!

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