Thursday, August 9, 2012

Not Your Grampa's Camping!

I am lying in the recliner at Great Meadows Campground, Chichester, NH. We scurried into the camper a little earlier, as the one cloud above us opened up and bucketed rain down on our home away from home. It lasted only a few moments, and we hurried outside again, eager to revel in the serenity, to breathe in the intoxicating smell of the rain blending so perfectly with the scent from the multitude of pine trees that surround us. Mmm…smells like Aussie Christmas!
Jazz and Cleo are here with us, a little confused at the change of surroundings, but happily snoozing on the grassy patch nearby, and rushing, maddened, at scurrying chipmunks, only to be hauled up short by their own leashes. Turns out Jazz can get up a bit of speed over twenty-five feet, and is most indignant about the sudden stop at the end! And the chipmunk, pausing barely out of reach, chatters disrespectfully at her. I swear one of them flipped her off!
I gaze up through the tree branches, and look at the quickly moving clouds. I still find a little secret joy in seeing what is hidden in them. Even now, a puffy unicorn is galloping across the sky, before morphing into a long nosed mouse with enormous ears. A wizard, complete with Dumbledore’s magnificent beard, rolls across the sky, his kindly face gazing down at me.  It is so real that I send up a frantic wish,  and gaze at him long after he has transformed into a small, fluffy dog.  What becomes of my wish now?
There is a strong and elegant beauty in the sixty foot pines that surround us here, and I find myself gazing up constantly, admiring the height, the bareness of the first forty feet of trunk and the proliferation of pine needles near the top.  A chipmunk is chattering madly at the top of one of them now, and every so often a pine cone comes hurtling down and smashes into the ground nearby. Mike and I conjecture as to how much damage it could do if one of them bonked us on the head. After all, I say, didn’t I read somewhere that a penny thrown from the Eiffel tower could kill a person?? Ah well, says Mike, calmly. We’re fine then…money doesn’t grow on trees!!
And we laugh again, as we so often do, and go back to our own quiet pursuits. It is modern camping, this. We both love the traditional aspects of camping. The serenity of the great outdoors, the birdsong constantly surrounding us, even the angry chattering of the chipmunks. The evening campfire is our greatest joy, and Mike sure does know how to get a fire going! One evening, he left me in charge of it while he gathered up his fishing gear and wandered off to the pond for a half hour.  I spent the entire time desperately trying to save what had been a perfectly well established fire before he left, tossing in any number of dry leaves and pine cones to try to get it all riled up again, poking, prodding, and swearing at it under my breath. It was still burning feebly when he arrived back, but within minutes was roaring away ferociously. Cursing at it a little more volubly, I returned to my chair and left him to it. We must all admit our own shortcomings, and apparently, that is one of mine!  But I digress. . . Yes it is modern camping. Here I sit, immersed in all the glorious beauty of nature, with a laptop on my lap, brilliant wi-fi connecting me to the world outside, a cell phone with excellent service sits on the ground by my side, and my Nook is on the table, charging up for my evening reading session. Mike’s laptop is on the table, his cell phone never leaves his side and I think I saw his Ipod in his computer bag as well. Our camper is relatively luxurious, with couches and tables, a kitchen with a stove, a fridge, a microwave. It has a full bathroom, and a Queen size bed in the separate bedroom. It has full power throughout, is well screened. It has a TV, (which doesn’t work and we don’t care...{except if we're here on Thursdays, coz I mean, who misses Project Runway??!})  a full stereo system, and more cupboard space than I need! In what is proving to be a difficult summer, it is a true delight to be here, relaxing, recovering, renewing.
My medical instructions are to relax as much as possible, to allow the muscles in my shoulder, neck and back to heal without the stresses of everyday life. And my mother assures me that the body will heal itself quicker if I give in to the idea of passive healing and therapy, at least for now. So I sit quietly, I don’t use my left arm too much, I rest my head wherever it feels comfortable, I don’t use an over-arm stroke when I swim, and I wait and wait and wait for improvement. I go to physical therapy three times each week, and now I also go to acupuncture three times each week. The physical therapist has given up telling me how long she thinks it might all take, and my doctor says my neck muscles still feel like an iron bar, and my shoulders are still not sitting evenly. Each day starts with a headache, and a couple of times each week I forget how much I hate taking pills, and swallow a Valium to relax my muscles and mind and allow me a decent sleep.
It’s been a long summer.
But for now, I’m here in Camp Heaven, where the chipmunks are only pretending to be murderous – hopefully! Where the lichen on the trees look like a naughty child has splattered great globs of mossy green paint randomly over the trunks. Where the smell of fresh pine permeates the still humidity and reminds me of home. And where a frozen burger tossed on an outdoor grill can taste as succulent and wonderful as any filet mignon. Soon we will have a swim, and then we will light the fire and that wonderful campfire smell will waft around us, piney and fragrant. We will gaze up at the stars again, reminiscing gently, and we will plan the future with all the joy and optimism that this gorgeous place brings to us. Perhaps tonight we will toast marshmallows over the fire, reveling in the hot, gooey sweetness and trying to keep it at toasting, and trying to avoid the incineration!
And then we will check our emails, plug in all our technologies to charge overnight, and go to bed, counting our blessings here in our cozy little modern cabin in the woods.
It’s modern camping – and I love it!
ps....stung by a nasty black waspy looking thing just as I typed that last exclamation point. In true "terrified of bugs" Aussie style, I gathered up everything and rushed inside!  Now watching finger swell and feeling it pulsate uncomfortably while cursing the great outdoors! 

I hate!!

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