Mysteries of the sweet life on Mount Riga, revealed
SALISBURY — The summer community on Mount Riga settles into a routine as the season progresses.With no electricity (save the odd generator for pumping water) and spotty cell phone coverage, the mountain provides a respite from the post-modern whirl of life.Which is why the summer residents can often be tracked down at the Scoville Memorial Library mid-day — using the computers to check emails, certainly, but also stocking up on books.People read on the mountain.Fixing houses and swingsThey also repair things. It’s possible to classify the summer residents as “fixer-uppers” and whatever the opposite would be.Or “builders and users,” as Dwight Collin of Pittsford, N.Y., and the Lower Lake said.Steve Griggs, with his son Colin and with Scott Dresser from a neighboring camp, were busy this past weekend replacing siding on the camp owned by the late Barbara Griggs, Steve’s mother and the last of a generation of Mount Riga matriarchs; she died earlier this year.The old arrangement was never any good, Griggs said. “I’d check in the winter and find snow drifts inside.”Which melted, presumably, by the time anyone was ready to come up for an extended stay.Bill Moore of Arlington, Va., and the Upper Lake was messing around with his golf swing on a hazy summer morning, hitting drives into a net.The real dog daysInside the camp, Sheila Moore was fiddling around in the kitchen and trying not to trip over assorted snoozing dogs, who only rouse themselves when something threatening approaches — a squirrel, perhaps, or a newspaper reporter.Their daughter, Margaret Moore of Boston, arrived with her 2-year-old son, fresh from a visit with another young mother and daughter at the Lower Lake. Following partially successful attempts to get the youngster to take an interest in a) a cherry b) a piece of sausage c) a cracker and d) a piece of cheese, he opted for attaching a leash to an exceptionally patient dog and going for a stroll.Then it was nap time. Margaret Moore said it was vitally important to take advantage of the two-hour “nap window.”“I love him dearly, but ....”The code of the mountainSome terminology: The summer houses, often consisting of a main house and smaller sleeping cabins, are referred to as “camps.” They vary greatly in architectural style, from Ancient Rickety Farmhouse to Modified Grain Silo, to Advanced Disguised Shed and Adirondack Hideaway. Most have outhouses, although Bill Moore directed a visitor to that camp’s “fancy New York-style flush toilet.”The two lakes on the mountain, which are labeled on maps as Riga Lake and South Pond, are known as the Upper and Lower lakes.The water is soft and by August delightful for swimming. A dip at 7 p.m. will often find the water feeling warmer than the air.The camps along the two lakes used to field softball teams on the Fourth of July. Sometimes it got downright fiesty. The rivalry has died down in recent decades, however. (The decade, incidentally, is the preferred unit of time for any significant changes on Mount Riga.)“Down off” means going to Salisbury, or anywhere else with electricity and plumbing.Summer residents can be spotted when down off by certain telltale signs: making a beeline to any reasonably clean public toilet; buying bags of ice daily, as the small propane refrigerators in most camps are usually not great in the ice-making department. Adults are often accompanied by a minor herd of small children who may or may not be related to the adult. There are some seriously odd hairstyles, caused by a hair care regimen of (literally) soaking one’s head in the lake.And a sure sign of a mountain resident who is down off: buying bags of lime, which is a crucial element in successful outhouse management. Think about it.