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.


Yankee T said...

I'll say it again...nice life, dear jo(e), nice life.
Have a great weekend.

Ianqui said...

No one in my family can go more than an hour without food.

But they're all so unbelievably thin! How do they do it? (I know, I know, I'm not supposed to be focued on body image on your blog, but how can I help myself when your family--from the back, even!--is so beautiful?)

KLee said...

I echo Ianqui's comment that you're all (envy-inducingly) thin! You must burn all that food off quickly with all the bocce, flashlight tag, and swimming! You all are an active bunch, where my family are more the garden slug variety. You wanna adopt me? PLEASE?!

I, too, am rather hand-grabby when it comes to getting the newspaper. Of course, it it my mission to FINISH the croswword, so I don't pass it around for others to add to. I may ask for help on the rare occasion, but my brain is a veritable font of useless crossword information.

Anonymous said...

I, too, have to echo Ianqui's comments. I wondered how you could all eat every hour and remain so tiny. And then I hate myself for noticing and hate what that means about my obviously-not-where-it-should-be body image.

It just makes me really sad that I have so deeply internalized the messages about what female bodies are supposed to look like.


ccw said...

I feel warm just reading this post. I love your family!

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

We had a week of lovely weather but now it's raining & chilly. I would so love to go camping. When you camp it doesn't seem to matter if it rains; I mean, you're out there, you already went to that much effort, so you may as well just play in the rain.

Friday Mom said...

This post made me sleepy. I'd like to crawl in my tent and take a nap right now.

Pangie said...

It makes me sad that we have to find time to do nothing, but going to a camp usually does solve the problem.

zelda1 said...

It's my niece who grabs the paper and will not turn loose until she has read and reread and marked and tallied and then she will let us have it to read only if we promise to give the sales papers back to her. Ha, that one. I do the puzzles, my sister reads the astorology and my son memorizes the sports page.