Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Camp

July. The days are warm and full of activity. Gardens are beginning to show fruit and the black caps are growing juicy on the vine. The days are full of flowers and lying in the hammock between the two old trees. The chickens run happily around the yard chasing butterflies and scratching for worms in the dry dirt. The mountains seem to fade into a shimmering purple haze of heat. Streams are gurgling merrily along. Insects store their energy during the heat of the day and emerge in the cool evening. Rainbow trout rise lazily to the hatch beneath the riffles of the dams, breathing in the life-affirming oxygen. For humans, the heat begins to drive us to the shade of the woods. It’s going to be a long hot summer and the mountains are calling me. My wife, Katie, my sister, Callie from CT, and I pack a picnic lunch and load the truck with bottles of water and snacks. As so many Vermonters do, we are heading for
Nothing Fancy
the respite of camp. The nice thing about camps is that it really doesn’t matter whether your camp is a spacious monument on a stone wall overlooking the lake or if it’s something simple tucked off in the woods away from the maddening crowds. It’s a getaway. It’s a place where the mundane rules of everyday etiquette relax a bit. It’s okay to not make your bed. It’s okay to wake up a little later and eat a hearty breakfast at 10:00. The days are unrushed. Our little camp is humble – heck some people might think it’s a paragon of poverty – but to us and the people we invite, it’s a slice of heaven.

As the truck pitches from side to side going up the old logging road we sing along to the radio and it feels like we are in a time machine going backwards to a simpler period in human life.
The Old Defiant Stove
We pull up to the deck and check the water system, which is extracted from the bubbling brook. It fills an old bathtub with ice cold mountain spring water. Once hooked up, the same wonderful aqueous substance flows directly into the kitchen sink.Two large recliners and a fold down couch surround the old Defiant woodstove with a touch of rust on the surface.

After a cool drink of water, our friends begin to arrive. One by one, big wheeled trucks roll up into the parking area. Coolers of food and beverages are unloaded and bottles are placed in the bathtub where they will remain slightly above freezing.

After everyone unpacks, we collectively decide to hike to the top of Crow Hill for a view of the valley. The ascent is steep and full of loose rocks. Arriving at the top we are literally clinging to small pines to pull ourselves up to the next level. The short pines are thick and the ground is covered in spongy moss, its musky fragrance blending with the aromatic balsam and permeating the air around us. We are sweat soaked and our knees are shaking. Another 100 yards to the rock outcropping.

Sacred Beauty
We follow a deer trail right to the spot. Suddenly, the trees part and we are standing on a large shelf of rock, looking down on the Champlain Valley that seems to wave like a mirage in the heat. Beyond, we can see the lake shimmering in the mid day sun. The Adirondacks seem to reach up into the azure sky, blending in bluish-purple with the distant horizon. As far as the eye can see, there is beauty.

Sacred beauty that cannot be touched by development.  For this, we
can all give thanks. For this is solace for a world gone mad with busyness. As we stand on the precipice, time seems to stand still and we are all united in our mindfulness that this ground is sacred.