Raking leaves under a fall of snowflakes is status quo for me at the Great Camp Sagamore volunteer work weekends, whether it be May or October. It may seem extreme, but it is the mountains, after all. What a curious place, Great Camp Sagamore, existing in another time. No riding mowers or leaf blowers for this clean up crew, just rakes and shovels and tarps that had been previously been used for raven mitigation. That was a whole separate job that I was not willing to volunteer for (although Dana did!) that involved raven shit being cleaned off roofs. I get enough shit at work. I am Queen Pee after all. Leaves piled on tarps are transported to a secluded section of woods and unceremoniously dumped onto other huge piles of leaves. And so it goes, every other season, fall and then spring and then fall again. No matter what the season, and what the weather, you could always find Dan wearing his trademark shorts.
Dan drove the oldest, rattiest truck. It seemed the esteemed road crew had custody of the other newer models. His daughter Kelly was our partner in crime that day, the third in our leaf banishing trio. We were glad to have young blood, I could barely climb into the cab of the truck, much less jump up into and down from the bed. At the end of the day it seemed a bit of a luxury to spend our energy on words, so it was quiet. The easiness with which the two of them fell into a pattern of dumping pile after pile of crusty, snow covered leaves was amazing to watch. Just when it seemed no more would fit, anther pocket of space would be found. And finally there were no more piles.
After dinner and entertainment, Kelly went to bed and Dan joined his friends at the round table, for our own brand of entertainment. In the main lodge, where the motley crew of volunteers gathered in the evening, whatever happens at the round table stays at the round table. Kinda like Vegas, but really not at all. The particular evening in question ended up being conversations about strippers and kidnapping. Go figure. Dan was quiet by nature, but was also the first with a funny quip. He didn’t often say much but laughed a lot at that round table, for many years before I even met him. Many people have loved him over the years; I was able to get to know him over the last three years, a latecomer to Sagamore.
Spending time with Dan in the Tap Room in Raquette Lake , our regular stop on the way to Sagamore, was really cool. For those who don’t know, there is only one tap. And a liquor store in the window. And snails, on Friday, at 5ish. I love that place, and Dan and I have shared more than one beer there. Being from the city, exposing myself to those small town traditions is so cool for me.
Dan left this world rather suddenly last week. So many of us connected with Sagamore will miss him, myself included. And whenever I am sitting with my compatriots at the round table, we will lift a glass to a guy who loved life, and Sagamore.