June 02, 2006
Lazy mornings at camp
A long weekend at camp can be filled with activities – swimming and hiking, sailing and canoeing, bocce and frisbee – but one of the nice things about camp is having time to do nothing. Time to read a book or write in a journal or just lie on the grass and take a nap. It's wonderful to be away from the responsibilities of work or home or school. Days are long at camp because when you sleep in a tent, you tend to wake up as soon as the sun is up.
Usually, right after breakfast, someone in the family will pick a spot at the edge of the grassy field and spread some old quilts on the ground. That's where everyone gathers. My nieces and my youngest sister will cover themselves with suntan lotion and stretch out in the sun. My mother will pull her chair into a shady spot and settle down with a book. Before long, food will appear on the scene – bags of chips, cookies, and fruit. No one in my family can go more than an hour without food.
I will settle in a chair with my journal, half listening to the lazy conversations going on. The smell of suntan lotion mixes with the scent of dried grasses and pine needles. Boy in Black and my brother are always organizing games so the background noise will include the thud of running feet, arguments over rules to whatever game they are playing, and the occasional, "Watch out!" as a frisbee or ball comes hurtling toward us. When my mother announces it's time for bocce, almost all of us leave our spots to play. I don't know whether it's because bocce is a fun family game that a six-year-old just learning can play with her grandfather who has been playing all his life, or whether we all get up from our comfy spots out of necessity because it is kind of dangerous to lie on the ground while everyone is tossing heavy bocce balls around.
As the sun gets higher, I will leave my journal to go for a sail with my father, or to go canoeing through the marsh with one of the kids, or to go for a walk with my husband. Blond Brother-in-law, who can be kind of restless at camp, will drive to town for a newspaper, which we then all fight over. My oldest sister in particular has a real competitive streak when it comes to grabbing choice sections of the paper. Don't ever try to steal the newspaper from her if she's got a weapon in her hand. When the paper has been read by everyone, she will start the crossword puzzle, and then pass it on to someone else when she gets bored. Eventually, with input from the oldest members at camp – my parents, who are good at the questions about old movie stars and such – and from the youngest, who often have the kind of trivial knowledge you learn in elementary school and never use for anything but crossword puzzles – the puzzle gets completed.
As the sun gets warmer, the newspaper and quilts are abandoned as we all move to the dock area to splash in the water, or pile into the boats to go out to an island to swim, or gather in the deep shade of the oak trees for lunch. That evening, when we are all tired and sunburned, someone folds up the quilts and tosses them into one of the tents, and the newspaper is used to start the campfire.
Posted by jo(e)