We spent last weekend at a remote cabin in the Shenandoah Mountains. No running water, no mod cons. The cabin and gorgeous setting reminded me of The Waltons, that tear-jerking 1970s show in which a close-knit family weathered the Depression with grit and determination.

Like John-Boy, my husband went to UVA, and we spent the weekend with his college buddy, Jamie, and his two sons. Because Jamie’s wife was at a family reunion, it was just me, and SIX GUYS. I went reluctantly on this junket, but Jamie and Chris did all the cooking and didn’t really expect much of me by way of women’s work.

So anyway, I kept thinking of The Waltons, especially the end of each episode. Over plaintive music, John-Boy would would recap the adventures of the previous hour, and muse on the moral of the story. One of my hilarious high-school friends did a perfect parody: “That was the spring my brothers, sisters and I saved a fawn from starvation. We learned nurturing and gentleness – and we learned never to bring a deer on Mama’s rug again.”

Our VO would go like this: “We boys spent our days whittling, fishing, bug-watching. salamander-catching. We learned never to run out of earshot and eyesight of the group on a hike, especially when bears are fattening up for hibernation, and never to build up a blazing flame under a pan of bacon again. In the gentle hills near Charlottesville, where once they were college boys, our fathers let us handle knives and fire and fish-hooks, and it was heaven.”

Good night, Ian and Noah.

Good night, Malcolm and Hugh.

Good night, Jamie and Chris. And good night, summer of 2008.

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