I hope you are sitting down.
Today, I agreed to my family’s first camping trip. I even went so far as to consult with my husband on which tent to buy and shopped at two different stores. We abandoned our top choice soon after reading the online reviews. The worst of these said you were better off sleeping outside in the rain because the tent leaked like a sieve. Thankfully, a visit to Cabela’s online and a review from a scout troop helped us to arrive at the ultimate decision.
My close friends will tell you the most action my hiking boots get is every September at the annual Riverfest arts and crafts festival at Boling Park. There was a time though that I was outdoorsy. Thanks to my parents, my brother and I experienced the great outdoors through a variety of camping trips, which helped us to see a lot of the Southeast for not a lot of money. These trips produced the best stories that we still laugh about.
As a teenager, I volunteered as a counselor at a Girl Scout day camp in south Georgia. My duties included supervising a group of girls in activities including swimming and archery. Each Thursday night of camp, we would work together to put up a tent, our lodging for our overnight stay. The ancient canvas tents proved challenging and were always missing tent poles, but yet came together every time.
To entertain ourselves the night of the sleepover, each group would put together skits and dance routines. I can remember us “ghouls” attempting to moonwalk and dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” The next morning, we would cook our breakfast on a giant empty vegetable can heated by a homemade version of Sterno. The cooking surface was the perfect size for pancakes. My dad is right: food does taste better in the field.
My husband is mystified that the pampered woman he knows intimately chose to do all these things long ago. He is determined to make our family camping trip the best ever. To be honest, I am not so concerned about the creature comforts, but more so about the creatures taking comfort on me.
I am a nature lover at heart. From my kitchen window, I look for the hummingbirds to arrive every spring and mourn when they leave. I do experience a serene feeling when viewing God’s creation. This peace is inevitably disturbed by the aerial attack from any and all biting bugs in the tri-state area.
You can imagine how my heart skipped a beat when I saw the advertisement for the new Off Clip-On Mosquito Repellant. I combed the local stores only to discover empty shelves and plenty of refills. I am determined that product will change my life.
I am the party guest that might as well have a place next to the rotisserie chicken. I am a walking buffet for mosquitoes. Other bugs, too. I can remember getting stung by a bee in the armpit once and having to walk around a state park with a cold can of Coke under my arm to ease the pain.
Another attack was during a Memorial Day weekend spent at a cabin near Cuthbert, the second home of Ace and Joan Darden. After we pulled up, I was too busy greeting everybody that I failed to notice I was stepping in a minefield of fire ant hills. I was wearing Crocs. Many bumps later, and greased with bug repellant, I endeavored to not to slide off my plastic lawn chair.
My husband adores backpacking, and it seems logical that our daughter one day will accompany him on his treks in the woods. This trip is our attempt to foster a way for her to make some of her own childhood memories.
It could not come soon enough. Last week, we were standing outside the house and she asked me, rather shocked, “What’s that?” at the loud noises coming from the trees. It was the sound of the cicadas. A favorite summertime childhood memory of mine is of all the children in the neighborhood collecting their empty shells from the trees. We’d attach them to our terry cloth shirts as we chased each other through our yards.
I look forward to hearing the squeals from her discoveries and her eyes reflecting the dancing light from a jar of fireflies — or will it be from the ring of citronella tiki torches surrounding her mother?