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Return trip to cabin wasn’t all easy street

Robert Stanger

My recent trip to our river cabin, last visited in the fall, was notable on two counts.

One was the signage I encountered in the “Trump Country” south of Titusville where numerous colorful signs supporting our 45th president remain standing along the highways despite Donald Trump’s defeat by Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

The other aspect of the trip was what I encountered at the cabin, which had been undisturbed by human visitation for a number of months. This involved both good news and some serious trouble.

First, I would like to comment on the signage along Route 417 south of Titusville. I have no objection to how residents of that area have allowed their Trump signs to remain standing, since Trump’s political life may be far from over.

But what I do object to is that police and other authorities in the area have allowed signs highly offensive to our current president (and to public decorum as well) to remain standing in front of a roadside residence beneath a pole from which the Stars and Stripes waves.

The two signs that offended this motorist the most had blue lettering on a white background. They consisted of a scurrilous four-letter word preceding the name “Biden.”

When I told my wife about the signs, she remarked that perhaps the poster of the signs could be asked to just change their first letter to “L.” This, she noted, would convey message of hope for Biden’s administration rather than an offensive putdown of the President.

I replied that I didn’t think that the signs’ “author” would give any serious consideration to doing what she suggested.

The First Amendment to our Constitution of course guarantees the freedom of speech, among other rights.

But I don’t think it would cover posting an insulting expletive (in full view of children on passing school buses) aimed at our President (particularly one whose initial steps in office have been so beneficial to our nation).

I noted on my return trip from our place on the river that the two signs which I had found particularly offensive had been replaced by a somewhat larger one bearing the same insulting message, but with white lettering on a blue background.

The property owner clearly dotes on his signs, but with what intent other than to confront and offend those of a different political persuasion?

The good news at the cabin was apparent on the first night of my stay.

Contrary to what had been the situation there for years, there was no longer the nightly sound of flying squirrels scampering in the small attic-space above a second-floor bedroom.

In the fall of last year, my son James and his wife, Harmony, had actually captured a number of the small critters after raising the ceiling tiles above the bedroom.

They then transported them a few miles upriver before releasing them into the forest.

James also plugged apertures the squirrels had used to gain access to the room.

I was afraid that the released squirrels could have found their way back downriver to the cabin and perhaps some might have found other ways to reenter the attic, or that other flying squirrels in the area could have found their way in. But the relative silence at night indicated that the squirrels were gone, except perhaps for a straggler or two.

We did enjoy sharing the cabin with the squirrels to some degrees since their antics at night were entertaining as seen (with help from a flashlight) from a campfire as they scampered about on the side of the cabin and “sailed” into a nearby tree on their webbed limbs and flat tails.

As for winterizing the cabin, I’ve had trouble in the past due to the failure to completely drain the cabin’s plumbing system of water, and this failure was again a problem this year.

When my son, James, volunteered to winterize the cabin last fall, I agreed and gave him what I thought were sufficiently detailed instructions on what to do.

But either my instructions were faulty, or he missed a step, as water was left in the shower pipe. This froze and then burst the pipe. Water from the broken pipe flooded the bathroom floor when I took a shower.

I was afraid that the shower stall would have to be removed or a hole cut in the partition behind the burst pipe in order to replace it.

But the excellent plumbers from a firm I have relied on in the past were able to get at the pipe through the opening in the stall created by the main shower valve.

The cost of the failure to simply let all the water out of the shower pipe by lifting a valve was not minor but continued access to a hot shower was worth the expense.

I’m now hoping those flying squirrels aren’t wending their way “home” from their release point upriver and again finding access to our cabin.

Although they may have found another home in which to reside, they are hopefully just living where they belong … in the forest.

Robert Stanger has lived seasonally for over 40 years along the Allegheny River and has the stories to tell about it.

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