I spent the morning at sleep-away camp.
Not really. The smells of the twelve cubic yards of dark pine mulch I spread over the flower beds in the front of my house transported me seamlessly through time. Back to the mid-1960s. Where summertime meant navy shorts and white blouses with Peter Pan collars. All whites on Sundays when the flag was raised outside the log built lodge overlooking Lake James at Camp Pokagon Girls Camp. The northeast corner of Indiana, a few miles from the Michigan state line.
Ahh. The memories lulled me deeply as I dragged 50 pound bags from my Volvo parked as close as I could get it to the house. Flat rake and snow shovel at the ready. My knee, which incidentally had totally stopped hurting a few days ago, now aggravated by back-to-back two mile walks with Bailey through the neighborhood. The firsts in over a month.
As I emptied the six very large and super heavy bags raking the cool, damp bark I was swept back 45 years to the sweet pungent scent of tall evergreens coolly shading the pathways from cabin to cabin. Lodge to the horse trails to the Sweet Spot where we purchased Nehi soda pop (haha, in Kentucky being southern and all we called everything Coke even when we meant a ginger ale or a Dr. Pepper) and frozen Milky Ways with tear off coupons in denominations ranging from one cent to a quarter.
Red licorice sticks and penny candy from wide-mouth glass jars on the wooden counters at Bledsoe's, a country store, where we dragged our canoes up the mostly sandy slope after emerging from lily pad covered streams on the other side of Lake James. If lucky, freckled boys from our brother camp would stop by and we would engage in preteen giggles eyeing each other, making mental notes of whom to seek out at the upcoming dance.
Dionne Warwick singing of parking lots and directions to San Jose after lights out. The muslin sheets and thin wool blanket pulled over my head as I devoured Nancy Drew books and Archie comics by flashlight. The ear plug of my transistor radio falling out. Tuned to WOWO-AM 1190, a clear channel AM radio station heard all the way to Nashville and New York and Topeka and Toronto. Oddly, twenty five years later I would structure debt financing for the acquisition of WOWO by my number one client, Price Communications, in 1981.
The top bunk of Cabin 19 where as a senior camper I scrawled the names of boys I have long forgotten in permanent Magic Marker with hearts and xxoo's and curlicues. Where I missed a period, irregular as always, and knew ... just knew I was pregnant. Penned a letter marked CONFIDENTIAL in big red letters across the seal and posted it directly to my pediatrician - you know him ... the one and only Needle Happy Harris. Spelled out the situation. I was in the family way. The culprit? A rampant sperm that swam across the lake from boys camp and squiggled its way into my loose boxer cut swimsuit and straight to one of my newly fertile eggs. One of my first scares. My Mom and Dr. Harris amused by the ignorance of a wide-eyed innocent emerging into womanhood.
Watauga v Nolichucky. Color wars. My yellow and green team, the Wataugas, always the victors. Lemons and limes. C'est moi to this day! My two. Count 'em, two trophies. Both awarded the same year. Best Camper. High Merits earned most likely for giving long back rubs to Lynn Glendenning, my cabin counselor from Ohio, who dated Larry Smucker of jelly and jam fame (three gingham topped jars - peach, apricot and raspberry preserves - are perched on the right door of my fridge as we speak!). She rewarded me generously with lots of points. But of course!
Next I found myself clutching the gunwales of the huge yellow whale boat jettisoning around the lake, my tangled hair flying in the wind. My sun burnt face smiling widely. My very homesick sister, Robin, along for the ride. A campfire and roasted marshmallows awaited on the beach.
The hours this morning melted into the delicious memories of the last summer of my childhood at the cusp of my tomorrows.
Cheers ... to my inner child, tanned legs skipping through the refreshing shade of tall evergreens. Pony tails flying.