Friday, May 30, 2014

Camping - No Electric Marshallow Cookers Required

Big Bro's children and grandchildren spent Memorial Day weekend with Dad pitching tents in the backyard and "camping" as most of our small family met up for the weekend.  The kids had a ball with that, even with a fence and the glow of the lights from the folks behind him.

Tents, just like I remember.

As a child we had lots of backyard tent nights, but we actually only went "camping" once.  For you see, my Mom had a colostomy due to her cancer surgery when I was four, and that required a clean, sanitary place for her to attend to that in privacy, which was NOT the typical campground of our childhood.
Yes, that's an ax, and we didn't have bicycle helmets either.

Yet we went once on a glorious trip for a few days on a lake up in the mountains an hour and a half from home.  No other people, no running water, no bathroom but for a few outhouses a bit of a hike away, the tent a stone's throw from the lake, which was our bath and our shower.   There was a stump of a mighty tree leaning out towards the water from which Big Bro and I would simultaneously jump and enter the glory of a high mountain lake with a single splash.
Where supper comes from.

Each and every day, at least once, sometimes twice, Dad and Mom would leave us there, with a couple they were friends with from church who joined us to camp nearby, to then drive ALL the way back to town so Mom could tend to her needs.  They did that for days, just so we could go camping that once. 
Mom tries to make lukefisk on the camp stove
We were not spoiled, our every whim and need catered to, least we throw a temper tantrum.  We wore hand-me-downs and home made clothes, our toys were often used,and if mistreated, were not replaced.  From the earliest age we had responsibilities fitting our growth and  if we didn't do our chores there was not only no allowance, there was no dessert or TV. 
Big Bro's always happy to take an unflattering photo of his little Sis

But Mom and Dad understood the infinite need of young minds to explore the world, the express desires of youth and the compulsions of some moments. 

We  never forgot it.

It's perhaps why I always hated the modern version of camping. Huge motor homes, where roughing it means doing without ESPN and neighbor's closer than found in any subdivision.  My camping was a fire built with magic and swear words, burned wienies and good beans, woodsmoke and bug spray, paper plates that fell apart. My camping was the sound of a hoot owl as the sun set, it's dying rays reflected in a cup of beer as the family dog snoozed happily by the fire. I did it as a kid, I did it as an adult, by myself up in the Sierras when I was based as an airman in California.  I would be there, for those times when I didn't wish to sacrifice the wonder of the present moment to work, society or noise. A loner always, I wanted a broader margin to my life. I could sit in the faded sunlight of a doorway between two trees from dinner til dark fall, rapt in a revere in undisturbed stillness and solitude.

As dusk settles in, I'd wonder about the lapse of time, the evening seeming like a mere moment, time like a season in which I grew like flowers in the night.
Philosophers talk about contemplation and the forsaking of work and out there I realized what they meant. The day advanced as light comes into it, it's morning, and now it's evening, and nothing memorable is done. My days were not minced into deadlines of a ticking clock or the perusal of things that no longer held breath. Let mornings be lazy, afternoons passed by in long walks or a flip of a fishing pole and if the day become wasted in the warm rapture of a sunset as nature sang its song in my ear - what was the harm?

That to me, is camping.  So imagine my surprise when in looking at "camping supplies" to see if there was something I could get for the kids to have on hand for that weekend, I spotted this.

The electric marshmallow cooking device. Fun for the campfire. Batteries not included.

I can only imagine the kids, raised with such a device, whining they will go hungry because the battery went dead and they had no way to cook the marshmallow.

Their non survivalist parents would probably try and find a mini mall at 11 pm so junior could get another device.

Not in our household.

Welcome to Home on the Range. Here's Your Stick.

I think Mom and Dad would understand.
And by the way, despite what the electric marshmallow cooker consumer may say, in the shadowy corners of civilization, there's always someone with no marshmallows wanting to take yours. Stay safe out there.

Barkley Grabs the Marshmallow Camping Stash


  1. With my knees, camping now is out of my compact pickup with a shell. Still drive out of my way to find a solitary spot.

  2. My daughter wants to have 7 girl friends over to camp out for her 16th next week. No electric marshmallow cookers allowed! We are in a remote area so the big thing to watch for are skunks and other critters but most animals are afraid of a herd of screaming teenage girls.

  3. Another great story that brings back fond memory's

  4. Ah yes, the official marshmallow stick. I learned to look closely at them after my first experience with one that was, uh, buggy.

    Everyone should go "real camping" at least once in their lives. I realize it's harder to do now a days than it use to be, but still should be a "must do" as close to real as is possible.

  5. The last week of July my camping will be 4 older Scouts, one other Scouter and myself up in the Boundary Waters Wilderness Canoe Area. All newbies but me. 5 nights on the water and they better listen carefully because there's no Troop trailer or trip into town if they forgot something. Should be O.K. I've had to make do before.

    Prayers are requested. Not for fish or good weather. I re-took Wilderness First Aid again. Pray I don't have to use it and we'll have a great time.

  6. Just don't use eucalyptus for your marshmallow stick!


  7. Those were our kind of sticks too... In the backyard over the "Old Smokey." As I've gotten older I do like more creature comforts (....say, of rv living), but I don't want my grand kids to never know what it's like to sleep outside in the wilderness in a tent. There are some things in life an rv just isn't cut out for.

  8. What a wonderful post. Have a great week-end.

  9. Blogger Brigid said...
    el cupacabra - she was indeed. Criminal Justice degree in the 40's when most women didn't do college, Deputy Sheriff (NOT a matron) in the 60's and she could make about 14 different kind of cookies at Christmas. Best Mom ever! She had a rough go of it health wise for over 10 years, and never complained but only sought to inspire. It set a good example,for us all.

  10. Love to camp, minimal gear, and the further out the better. Barring that in the back yard, in a home made tepee. Smores!

  11. Brigid,
    As usual as fine a bit of writing as any I have seen! You manage to describe parents and a brother that shared with you so much love. Makes me so jealous, I had parents and 5 siblings, but your family seems to have shared more love in a weekend than my family had between us in an entire lifetime. Everything you write about your family is SO resonant with love and affection! That they are adopted parents, all the more remarkable. You truly were blessed with both your parents and your terrific big bro! Thanks as always for sharing with us!

  12. Brigihid - you and I would have some serious fun camping. Sorry I missed you my last trip out to Dad's.

    Hesdedjim - why thank you. We were lucky indeed. No family is perfect, and we were no exception, but there was always lots of love.

  13. As I got spoiled back in the 90's, when I worked for outfitters in Wyoming, I prefer to pack into the mountains using horses and mules.

    Am thankful that I live in a part of the world where I can do that.



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