When I think back on my childhood, the memories that stand out always hail from the seemingly endless country summers, each one covered in a thin haze of lazy Midwest heat.
They come muddled together— bicycle rides up and down the dusty driveway, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, weeding Momma’s flower gardens, racing to the country store (sweaty hands clutching two quarters) for Orange Burst Push-Up Pops, watching farmers bale hay behind the house, eating fresh cucumbers straight from the garden, and returning over and over to our favorite camping spot. Camping was the highlight of every Burkholder summer, and each year included at least one trip.
Last week, J and I drove around town to grab a giant cooler, a few camping chairs, a tarp, and some marshmallow roasters, because… we’re going camping! J and I have never gone together, so we’re excited a) for some time out in nature and b) to experience camping together for the first time, just the two of us. I’m crossing my fingers that this turns into one our family traditions.
In the midst of our planning, I couldn’t help but reminisce about all the countless trips that constructed parts of my childhood. Like the summer I finally braved up and tried a backflip into the murky water, the countless evening kayak trips around the lake, the midnight steak grillings, guitars and singing around the campfire, watching fireworks explode over the water. Our sunburns often lasted for weeks because we were too darn excited to get in the water for any of that silly lotioning-up stuff. At the end of the day, we’d limp back to the campsite, our hungry bellies leading the way. Momma would look at our scarlet red shoulders and our tired faces, tsk-tsk for a few minutes, and then pull out a wonderful soothing aloe potion (a premeditated packing addition because she knew us as only a mother does).
Now I’ll start a new collection of camping memories. I can’t wait to throw homemade pita dough on the grill and watch it sizzle above the licking flames. And listen to J pick the guitar around the fire. And caramelize onions in the cast iron skillet with dabs of butter, topped with fluffy eggs and bacon. And hike for hours until our muscles ache and then dance around waterfall like a bunch of crazy, free souls. And boil water over the fire for a hot cup of coffee in the early, dusky hours of the morning. All done next to and with my best friend.
Right now, the weather is approaching its most perfect state (at least in my opinion). Mornings start off cool with light breezes tugging the sun up and over the horizon into the land of the living. But by noon, the heat returns and a dip in the pool/lake/watering hole is a must. It’s the best of both worlds, I tell ya, especially perfect for camping. So in three days, we’ll be unplugging, pitching a tent, and kicking up our feet. This time I’ll be packing sun block lotion and applying generously.
Because nothing beats a good trip to a good lake with good people.
Check back next week for a full recap on whether or not we survived the woods.