From the Hat: I’m a-a Diva

Another Thursday night: low on inspiration but trying to build momentum and work that “showing up at the page” muscle. So it’s time for another draw from the proverbial hatbox.

And for once, I drew a topic that made me smile when I saw it:

Did you go camping? Tell about your experiences.

So, as it turns out, this girl camped every summer.

Sort of.

An earlier From the Hat post had me reminiscing about our annual trip to our “NH lake house”–at least that’s what I called it in that post. What we really called it in the family was “Camp”–a colloquialism that has its own New England roots.(1)

So in that sense, we camped all the time. In the sense of tents and sleeping bags on the hard ground and going potty out in the woods? By those standards, I have not camped, I do not wish to camp, I do not intend to camp. Ever.

As I’ve said many a time:

My version of roughing it is when you have to wash the dishes by hand instead of having an electric dishwasher.

Yes, this is more my speed

Camp has always been an interesting mixture of comfort and roughing it. Certainly weighted much more towards the “comfort” side of the scales. We had a roof over our heads and indoor plumbing. Actual beds and mattresses to sleep on, a working refrigerator, electric lights for nighttime and rainy days. Even a washing machine for our clothes.(2)

And yet, there were also a lot of markers that made Camp a different sort of experience than our suburban school-year abodes. There was a lot of running around barefoot. We’d wash ourselves and our hair with buckets of lake water, and I probably have more sustained experience than most of my friend-circle in hanging the wash out to dry on the clothesline. Our heating system was the fireplace and the Franklin stove in the main room of the cabin, so on cold days we would all be together in there. No air conditioner, ether, so during unusually hot days, we’d take a before-bedtime dip in the lake to cool ourselves off in hopes of sleeping better.

Yes, we had a TV, but the signal was poor enough that we only got one and a half channels(3)–so we spent a lot more of our Camp evenings reading or playing games.(4) On rainy days, if we didn’t flee to go somewhere else, we’d always pull out a big jigsaw puzzle to keep ourselves entertained.  And for all that we had electricity in the house, it also had a good habit of going out in storms, so I learned all the tricks of how to flush a toilet using a bucket of lake water and how to keep the fridge as cold as possible till the power came back up.

I also know for a fact that I have a basic level of comfort with bugs and small critters that others—for example, a city-bred college roommate or two—emphatically did not develop in their urban upbringings.

As the years have gone on, we’ve added more creature comforts: the satellite dish means we only have to watch one Red Sox first baseman at a time, and the wifi means we’re all able to maintain contact with our different work and volunteer responsibilities as needed. But some of that “roughing it” flavor remains.

Aside from the daily news report, the Red Sox games are about the only thing we watch on the TV. Our evening traditions of reading and playing games out on the porch continue strong. We have a refillable sun shower now, so we don’t get any soap suds running back into the lake when we wash our hair, but we’re still shampooing outside in our bathing suits.

And I’m still surprisingly chill about the bugs.


(1) See, for example this definition for Yankee Nod, and its reference to folks going “upta camp.”

(2) An antique, unbelievably noisy washing machine, to be sure. But it worked.

(3) I say “half” because we had one channel mostly-clear, and the other one (CBS, maybe?) where you had to be able to watch a triple image of each person or object. You can imagine the fun watch the Red Sox that way….

(4) Still looking for a cribbage partner.


Image credit: Flickr user Ranch Seeker, via a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license.

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