A few weeks ago, as several strapping alumni of the huts set off into the woods with the grueling task of re-opening Mizpah, Greenleaf and Galehead for the summer, the
While these valiant hutmen and hutwomen chipped away at month’s worth of ice, scrubbed every imaginable surface with bleach rags, and unpacked an entire summer’s worth of AMC apparel, I was involved in a notably less admirable endeavor over 2000 miles away, hunched in the fluorescent cavern of a school library, working out a fifteen-page paper on post-structuralist cinema, wearing a facial expression you tend to see on Olympic squatters. I tried to imagine what Francois Truffaut might say about feminism, but instead, all I could think of was the weirdly endearing sound of a full house at Lakes of the Clouds, slurping down gallons of hot soup in communal bliss.
Ever since I received my 2010 croo assignment in December, the promise of being Hutmaster at Carter Notch Hut for the summer had taken up permanent residency in my mind. I couldn’t enjoy a meal of fried chicken and waffles without wondering how I might cook it for 40 guests. I couldn’t jaywalk through LA traffic without worrying about who would assemble a rescue team if an Audi clipped my hip. I couldn’t even attend a T-Pain concert without wondering if some moves from his dance crew might spice up one of our blanket folding demonstrations.
Summer croo training can be observed in many forms and environments, perhaps right around you. That neon-clad jogger running through Boston Common might be hauling crates of pork products up the Gale River Trail next month. Similarly, that sprightly looking youngster with an armful of sequined dresses at the thrift store cash register might be wearing one those dresses whilst baking loaves of sundried tomato bread within the coming weeks.
What’s certain is that preparing adequately for a season in the huts is always a shot in the dark. All the bench presses and Italian recipes in the world can’t prepare you for arriving to your hut and finding it encased in snow, just as practicing your Boschian painting techniques may not be appropriate for creating a colorful yet amusing dinner menu. There is an outlet for any ability or talent within the huts, but realizing it takes great patience, confidence, and a little bit of improvisation.
Perhaps that challenge is what keeps so many of us coming back to the huts year after year. That, and the unpredictability it carries. Between the coworkers, the locations, and the guests, it’s impossible to have a summer that doesn’t feel unique. The oft chance that one year my croo will be serving stuffed shells to Daniel Day-Lewis or waking our guests with a full instrumental rendition of “Purple Rain” is as driving a force as my hope that the dwindling East Coast mountain lion population won’t skyrocket while I’m packing boxes up the Nineteen Mile Brook trail this season.
I’d like to continue this beard-stroking rumination about the huts, but seeing as the season begins in a week, I think I’ll pause here, go do some lunges, and leaf through The Barbecue Bible. After all, you can’t foresee the future, but you can certainly prepare the mind and the muscles for it.