Lesson Learned: Never leave the lid off

The human brain stores information about involuntary reflexes, mechanical functions, and a host of other everyday information in the folds and wrinkles of its mass. Some actions are so important they cease to occupy “thoughts”. They just happen because survival depends on it. That is why I always put a lid on my thermos.

My wife and I, along with our two year old daughter spent a month in my grandparents’ cabin in western Montana. At the time it was going through a major renovation and so we laid an air mattress on the floor, hauled water from the river, and cooked over a camp stove. It was the good life.

The only real draw back were the bugs at night. I take that back. The disgruntled kangaroo rat which inhabited the outhouse was another major problem. But the main problem concerning this story was the millipede population. As the temperature would drop in the evenings, these insects would crawl up through the floor boards or drop from the walls. They were everywhere. Before zipping into our sleeping bags we would walk around the cabin and crush as many as we could, leaving them as a ghastly declaration to any other millipede which might decide our warm sleeping bags would make a nice little bed and breakfast.

Each morning we would crawl out of the warm sleeping bags into the frosty air in order to put some water on to boil. Full thermoses of tea would buy us enough warmth to get dressed, start cooking breakfast, and get moving before the sun had warmed our little mountain valley.

One morning I was drinking my tea when I swallowed a few chunks. “I think our milk has gone bad” I told Crystal. I was looking for feedback in case she had tasted something off as well. Spoiled milk was probable since our borrowed cooler wasn’t exactly the most reliable source of keeping things from curdling when the afternoon had heated up.

I didn’t think about it again until the following morning when I went to pour the hot water into my thermos. I chanced to look into the bottom before filling it up and spotted a millipede snuggled in, an escapee from last night’s slaughter. Suddenly I realized I had made an awful mistake. I had thrown out good milk for no reason.

Some lessons only take once to learn and then permanently reside in your subconscience. That is the reason I always snap the lid shut on my thermos.