Saturday, August 8, 2009
Nature Girl Meets Her Nature
Since it’s August, most of us are thinking about vacations. We live on the Jersey Shore, so it’s not like we don’t see vacationers all around us. They are the families who look really, really stressed at the beach with little kids running around and plastic toys spilling everywhere. Since we live here, they are kind of a seasonal oddity to us along with ticks and mosquitoes.
Of course, we want to go on vacation, too. While I was teaching and working on fall syllabi, I decided the kids should have some kind of vacation until we leave for Virginia in a few days. There’s a campground a few miles from us, so I went on a mining expedition in the basement and found a brand new tent. I remember buying this tent about ten years ago while in a postpartum haze with Emma strapped to me in one of those cotton papoosey slings. I had no idea what I was thinking at the time since I can barely stand in the yard for fifteen minutes before the bugs and the humidity get to me.
“What is that?” Christopher asked as I dragged it up from the basement.
“A tent. I think we should go camping.”
“Camping.” He looked at me for a second. “Mom, do you sit around and think up these ideas for us? And don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s like you’re getting early dementia. Your ideas are getting worse and worse.”
“I don’t have dementia because I want you guys to get close to nature. It would be good for you to leave your computer and video games for a night. I think you should consider it.”
“So now, exactly why do you want us to pretend we’re homeless?”
I never looked at camping in quite that way. But I decided to put the tent up in the backyard. Maybe if they fooled around with the tent back there, they would want to go to the campgrounds.
Now I have never put up a tent before, and this slept four so it wasn’t that big. Emma had a couple of friends over and we took the box and some poles out to the backyard.
We struggled for about half an hour. One of the girls looked at the box. “There’s a door!” she exclaimed, “I don’t see a door on this tent.”
“Maybe we have to cut a door,” the other girl suggested, “you know, just cut it out.”
“Really?” I asked, “I never saw anyone do that,” I said. "They just zip them, don't they?"
“I think the door appears magically once the tent is up,” Emma suggested hopefully. "Remember the closet to Narnia?"
I looked at Emma. “I think I better see if there are directions.”
Of course there weren’t. The box was nearly ten years old, and it had been snooped in a few times and there were no directions. I stared at the box for a few minutes trying to figure out what went where.
We were still out there without a tent when Philip and a friend came into the yard.
“Oh,” Friend said, “we used to camp all the time. I love putting tents up!”
After a few minutes, Friend looked at me. “Umm, you know why this isn’t working?”
We all looked at her blankly.
“You guys are putting the tarp up. This is only the piece you put up when it rains. This isn’t a tent.”
We did find the tent in another part of the basement. Philip and his friend put it up. No one went near it. It's still out there, now being used as a trampoline for our psychotic squirrels. I am waiting for that friend to return because I have absolutely no idea how to disassemble the thing.
We have found a lovely hotel in Virginia where you slide a card into a slot to get to your room.
I think that’s a really good idea for me.