The slanted light and the harvest moon reminded me over the last couple of days that summer really is over. I tried to feel sad, but I just couldn’t muster up any tears. Not because it hasn’t been wonderful. In fact, this summer has been one of the loveliest I’ve had in a very long time. But I love the change of seasons, especially now – when the last of the tomatoes are in the market and the air starts to chill even though the days are sunny. I’ve been spending a lot of time sitting on the steps of the deck gazing at the chicks, smelling the honeysuckle, dreaming about butternut squash soup and reliving the memories of the last couple of months.
Most of these memories involve a tent and some bug spray. This summer was filled with camping trips. Our favorite spot, a little forest service campground near Willa Crick, is lush and shady, and even when the Crick proper is 95 degrees, this place is not. At night it can be downright chilly.
Have you ever noticed that when you sleep on an air mattress, it sucks all of the coldness out of the ground and transfers it to your body? It only took one sleepless teeth-chattering night where I stole Mark’s socks, sweatshirt and blanket for me to change my packing strategy for the next trip.
One weekend we headed out late on Friday hoping there would still be a campsite left. There wasn’t, but that’s what happens when you tell all of your friends about your perfect spot. Damn. So we decided to give ourselves the campground tour of Highway 299. We stopped at every sign we saw, and let me tell you, there are some awful campgrounds out there. Some were right on the road. Others were filled with concrete and trash. We finally found a sweet place next to the Trinity around Douglas City and got the tent put up just as it started to get dark.
The next day we spotted a rattlesnake taking a little nap near a rock about 20 feet away from the tent. Mark told me tales of the poor misunderstood rattler and talked me out of whacking off his head with a machete. We went swimming at Trinity Lake instead.
After a fun Saturday night in the Love Tent, we woke up the next morning, made coffee and sat at the picnic table talking about whether we wanted to take another dip in the lake before heading home. I noticed a wasp buzzing around my coffee cup, and since mine was a foofy vanilla nut sugar-filled drink, I thought it might go away if I walked back into the woods where it couldn’t smell it anymore. I walked several yards until I was out of the area of the table. Then I noticed a few wasps on the ground near my feet. Mark walked over to where I was, and as we turned to look back at our campsite, Mark let out a gasp while I whispered Holy Shit. It was surrounded by three large swarms of gigantic wasps. Most were buzzing around in circles – they looked like mini grey tornadoes – while some hovered completely still in mid-air. Most of these were directly above our food locker.
We didn’t need to say a word to each other. In a situation like that, there’s only one thing to do: Get the hell out.
We spent the next half-hour moving in slow motion. Mark took down the tent while I packed the rest of our things, both of us being careful to not make any sudden movements or loud noises. We didn’t even try to put things away neatly – just grabbed as much as we could, walked slowly to the car, carefully opened the door and shoved it in. We literally had to walk within inches of one of the swarms to get to the car. Finally, the entire site was cleared except what was in the locker. Just leave it, I hissed at Mark. He had a horrified expression. There was good salami in there. But he started to regretfully make his way to the car. I got in the driver’s seat and shut the door behind me. Phew.
Then suddenly Mark had a change of heart. He would not leave the salami. He spun on his heel, flung open the locker, grabbed the bag inside and sprinted toward the car. I slapped my hands against the side of my face screaming NO as he jumped in the car and slammed the door shut. We sat there in silence for a minute. No buzzing. I threw the car into reverse and we practically peeled out as I drove through the mob of angry little bastards dive-bombing the windows.
We laughed all the way home.
My last camping trip of the summer was last weekend. It was girls only – just me, Bee and Trixie. We laid in the sun, swam in the river, ate those hot dogs filled with cheese that Mark thinks are disgusting and talked about hopes, dreams and orgasms for three glorious days. I hope your summer was filled with all three.