Thursday, February 28, 2008

Almost leaving

Warm, sunny (mid-50s!)

When I first worked here eight years ago, I never thought the place would grip me. I saw adults who devoted gads of time, energy, and love to a summer camp, and I thought it was sweet, in a way I’d never want to be. That first summer I explored during my time off, following the creek to new, adventure-worthy places. I discovered dangerous trails that weren’t being used but were exhilarating. I stretched my hammock between cedars and relaxed before realizing I didn’t really know how to get back. I hiked in the dark, daring myself to never bring a flashlight. I didn’t think much about how the place was affecting me; I was really only exploring because the rest of my job was unduly frustrating. But now that I honestly look at it, this is where I began to love exploring—that aimless, trailless wandering that now is my favorite thing to do in the woods.

Today I took my lunch to the river, basking in the ridiculously warm sun, and then hopped rocks upriver. I’ve taken this route a few times before, but this time I cut back up to camp a little bit sooner, and found a majestic snag I’d never seen before. Its bark was mostly gone, and its grain whorled, almost spiraled, shades of red-brown striping toward the deep blue sky. Just when I think I know the ins and outs of camp—which toilets are likely to spew, which cabins are likely to have graffiti, which parts of the river are likely to be submerged during which season—I realize I don’t know much of it at all.

I think it’s impossible to spend a lot of time here and not succumb to its grip. Once camp has gripped you, it’s even more impossible to leave without feeling a certain wistful gloom. Driving the road into camp always feels right, and getting out of the car feels even better. There’s a certain energy in the air that makes you hop out and check on everything—the buildings, the river, the little trails you hold dear. Camp is like a friend you’re always happy to see. On the sad occasion you and that friend have been apart for awhile, you stay up late exchanging stories, and you go to bed satisfied, comforted, and peaceful.

I kind of wish these were the only things I feel going to bed in Slanty tonight, for what could be the last time in a long time. The reality is that we’re likely to be apart for a little while. But it has been a magnificent re-acquaintance, a lovely winter in the woods.

1 comment:

Michaele said...

Aw, I'm gonna miss your little blog desperately. I look forward to it every night at work. It makes me all warm and fuzzy inside to read something about camp every day. I'm really gonna miss it.