I tell you, It took me back to the kitchen of my childhood.  Our house was down a long gravel road in the middle of sagebrush and rocks.  Every now and again strangers would show up lost in our driveway.  My parents could not send them away without feeding them.  

So, that is my story; the old days were good, but there are still good times to be had.

A Journey Back in Time
The good old days; how many times I have heard and even used that statement.
Were the old days really all that good?  We tend to remember the best parts of our past and forget many of the hardships. 
Where am I going with this?  Let me begin at the beginning.

It was a warm and sunny July day in the Pacific Northwest; the year was 1982. 
I was returning home from the first week-long family vacation in ten years. 
A week of traveling and camping in a station wagon with four children was beginning to wear on my patience.  
Finally we were less than two hundred miles from home; we had enough money left in our vacation fund for one good meal out.  So I pulled the huge Ford wagon into the parking lot of a rustic but obviously popular restaurant.   I was expecting to eat and be home in less than three hours time. 

During the meal, I noticed several pine-knot carvings hanging throughout the restaurant. One in particular caught my attention; it was a woodspirt with a face as black as coal.  After dinner, I inquired about the artist and was given directions to his studio.  The cashier said I couldn’t miss the place since it was the only building on that mountain road.
After nearly forty-five minutes of dusty road, we came to a modest home surrounded by woods. This had to be the place since there was no other place around the place.   I cautiously pulled into the yard and sat there for a bit. Country folks will usually let you know if you are welcome.
The dust had barely settled before the front door opened and a frail woman stood there motioning for me to come inside.   I suggested to my wife that she and the kids stay in the car until I returned.   Once inside, I asked about the carvings I had seen down in the valley.  The lady said they were carved by her husband; who was in his shop right now carving more.   I was directed about three hundred yards down a trail to a very small shack. 
From a distance, it could have easily passed for a double-seated outhouse. 
I was careful to make plenty of noise on my way down the trail; a stranger showing up at your door in the middle of nowhere might come as a surprise.  The last thing I hoped to do was surprise a man with a sharp knife in his hand.   When I reached the shop, I found a tall thin man seated in a chair with woodchips nearly up to his knees.   He greeted me with a big grin and introduced himself; I was surprised to find he knew I was coming a half hour before I arrived.  Seems that not many cars travel his road unless they are coming to see him; and he can hear them as they start the long climb up the mountain.
We had a good talk about the carvings in the restaurant and he showed me his stockpile of pine knots he had collected along the river.  He asked which of the restaurant carvings I liked best; I told him it was the black faced woodspirt.
He said that was the actual color of the wood and his favorite also.  It was as though we were old friends; while he didn’t get many visitors, I guessed that was the way he liked it.

After about twenty minutes I mentioned I had better get-a-gettin, so he walked me up the trail to the house.   As we reached the yard, I notice my family was not in the car where I had left them.   I was invited inside; and there around the kitchen table sat my wife and four kids drinking cocoa and eating peanut butter cookies.
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