Summer mornings at camp, I wake up in my small tent to the sound of birdsong. The acres and acres of preserved wetlands to our west are matched by acres and acres of farmland to our east, and the birdcalls from the marsh mix with the piercing call of a rooster, who crows again and again. Nights are almost always cool at camp, but the morning sunshine warms the tent. Sunlight pouring in through nylon walls gets everyone up pretty early, even the teenagers.
Breakfast is eaten in shifts as people stumble out of tents. A few people at a time will gather in my parents’ tiny cabin, where my mother sometimes makes blueberry pancakes over a propane flame, three pancakes at a time in a cast iron frying pan. No one talks much in the morning besides the usual greeting, “Good morning,” and “How did you sleep?”
Anything that happened during the night is recounted – thunderstorms, boats going by in the channel, the call of the great horned owl. Since I am a sound sleeper, I rarely can contribute to the conversation as I grab a bowl of cereal and some soy milk. The teenagers exchange inside jokes about all that went on in their tent as they devour pancakes or cereal. My kids are always still wearing whatever t-shirts they had on the day before, with their hair sticking in all directions. Blonde Sister’s girls, who have that silky hair that always looks perfect, manage to look neat and clean even when camping.
My father, who is obnoxiously cheerful in the morning, will try to get everyone to make plans for the day. "What island should we go to today?" He is largely ignored by the rest of the family, none of whom have inherited his cheerful morning attitude and who prefer to skulk about silently until they are fully awake.
Our dock, surrounded by cattails and shaded by oak trees, is a fairly private place for washing up in the morning. If you get a quiet moment before the dogs start jumping in and stirring up the muck, the water will be calm and clear. A quick swim or a splash of cool water on the face wakes up even the sleepiest camper.
Urban Sophisticate Sister washes her face at the end of the dock.