Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 18 Photo: Something We Don't Know About You

A lot of people don’t know that I love to go camping. Growing up, my family went camping for two weeks every summer at a local campground, and then often took another trip somewhere farther away later in the summer. We had an old Cox pop-up trailer, with two wings that swung outward to make bunks. When I was very small, my parents slept on one bunk and my sister and I slept on the other. When my sister and I were old enough to object to that situation, she took the bunk and I slept on the floor. I’m still not sure why this was such an improvement in my mind, but I do recall that it was.

I remember my mom getting out boxes and lists from the attic. She carefully consulted her menu and packed dry foods in a green wooden box with a sliding top, and perishable foods in a heavy Coleman cooler with an aluminum latch that made a very satisfying CLUNK when you latched it. She had another green wooden box filled with yellow and turquoise plastic mugs, cheap cutlery and serving forks and spoons, and plastic bowls and plates. A large white jerrycan nested inside a white basin that was used for washing dishes and people. Ziploc bags filled with everything from damp washcloths to shampoo bottles to sponges to hot cocoa mix were tucked into the nooks and crannies of each box. And the dark green sleeping bags, one lined with plaid flannel fabric and the other lined with brown flannel fabric printed with flying ducks were carefully aired on the clothesline before being rolled, tied tightly with twine, and crammed into the back of our Plymouth Gran Fury station wagon, which already groaned under the weight of the aluminum Grumman canoe my dad had heaved on top and tied down with bungee cords.

It’s funny the details I still remember some 30 or 35 years later. And it makes me wonder what my own kids will remember years from now. Will they remember that we left them sitting in the minivan watching a DVD to keep them out from underfoot while we set up the tent? Will they remember that we always had a fancy dinner of steak and corn-on-the-cob with wine for the adults the first night of vacation? Will they remember the cool toasting forks with the thumb wheel that we used to toast marshmallows over the fire? Will they remember chasing fireflies after dark, or lying in the tent listening to owls calling, or looking up in the sky on the way to the bathroom at night and seeing a shooting star?

It may look like just a tent to you, but to me, it’s my kids’ memories in the making.

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