Every day this week, With-a-Why has asked, "How many more days until we go to camp?"
Memorial Day Weekend will be our first weekend at my parents' camp since last fall. The weather prediction does not look ideal - cold and rain - but that doesn't matter. We'll pack long underwear (the nights will be cold no matter what and tents do not hold the heat) but optimistically, we will all bring bathing suits as well. My Dad will get his sailboat back into the water. My canoes need simply to be turned over, and they are ready to go.
Even if the weather turns hot and sunny, we won't swim all that much because the river will still be icy, numbingly cold. But we will spend lots of time just hanging out - sitting on blankets spread out on the ground, huddled together for warmth, the teenagers spreading suntan lotion over goosebumps, almost everyone with a book or journal or magazine. The women in the family will talk and talk. Spouse will claim the hammock in the shade of the oak trees. We'll play bocce and frisbee golf. My brother and Boy in Black will play their guitars. We'll build big campfires to sit around at night, everyone talking, laughing, and telling stories. My mother will be the only person to remember to bring a flashlight.
If it rains, I'll go canoeing or hiking, getting completely soaked and chilled before stripping off the wet clothes, putting on dry long underwear, and settling into my cosy tent with either a good book or a warm husband. The teenagers, who have a tent to themselves far away from everyone else, will stay up too late, talking and singing and playing cards. My mother and brother-in-law will cook all kinds of food over the fire. My father and I will get into at least one argument. The water will be high and the cattails low, and the water in our bay clear because the weeds haven't grown up yet. Blonde Niece, Drama Niece, and Shaggy Hair will all insist on swimming, no matter how cold it is, just so they can brag about it.
At camp, I'll get up at dawn with my Dad for an early morning sail. We'll sail through the grey mist on the bay and out into the river, which is quiet that time of day. We'll weave our way through the islands - past huge old mansions with big stone piers, the elaborate summer homes and gardens of rich people, small well-kept cottages, some old fishing camps. The state park we pass will be filled with tents and trailers; everyone still asleep. We'll go past the island owned by the Nature Conservancy, an island of high branches filled with great blue heron nests. Quietly, we will glide past the channel marker where the ospreys nest.
By the time we get back to the dock, everyone at camp will be waking up. Spouse will have driven to town for the morning newspaper, and everyone will be fighting over it. My mother or brother-in-law will be frying bacon or making blueberry pancakes. Blonde Sister will be sitting at the picnic table with a cup of coffee. The teenagers will be stumbling about sleepily. The little kids will be full of chatter. Another day at camp.