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The AHA Wouldn't Approve the River Drive Diet

Big Snow, Little Snow --

Christmas day was busy. The twins were up early. Dinner was elaborate and long. By the time the living room was picked up and the dishes put away, it was nearly midnight. The next day Elwood did not feel like doing much more than turning the pages of a good book.

After making a fresh pot of coffee, Elwood picked up Big Snow, Little Snow: The Drama of Log Driving in the Connecticut River Valley. Ken had given him the book with a note that read, "I'm glad we weren't trying to get lumber to the mills at the end of the 19th century."

As soon as he had read the first few pages of the preface, Elwood knew he would enjoy Big Snow, Little Snow. The book was about the men who drove great tall timbers from the headwaters of the "Third Connecticut Lake to the mills in Mt. Tom, Massachusetts." It was about "the time of trees and men" when the "fate of one depended on the other." Before the end of the first chapter, Elwood was glad he was not cutting timber for a river drive in 1899.

The earliest of these lumber camps had one huge bed. . . Ten to twelve men slept in that communal bed, lying on their sides (not on their backs) much like spoons.

Elwood felt a lump in his throat when he read about the young Irish man, Red, who entertained his fellow loggers one night with tales of the "Black Widow Mudget's Whore House down in Holyoke, Massachusetts." The next day--

The log Red had been standing on twisted and then rolled like hitting something beneath it. The jolt threw him up and he struggled to regain his balance but consequently he fell into that water like a brick. He fell at a spot where the undercurrent was strong, and the water black and deep. He bobbed up once, and the men tried to get him but he went under and never surfaced.

Elwood read about the sound along the river drive, the frogs and peepers singing at night, the thundering logs, the sound of the great logs hitting chunks of ice, the men cursing and bellowing, and when the men failed to break a jam, the sound of dynamite. Elwood read about the towns, the whiskey, the fights, and the women, good and bad, each of whom offered their own special kind of comfort to the men and boys on the river drive.

When Elwood put down Big Snow, Little Snow to make a turkey sandwich for lunch, he found himself thinking that the American Heart Association would not have approved the camp cook's breakfast eggs that were "fried in bacon grease with the cook making sure that each yolk had bacon grease poured over it."

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