Monday, July 4, 2011

Camp Visits

I am feeling a little overwhelmed tonight. It was an eventful Fourth of July weekend. Between sharing a camp with my brother and his family then seeing my parents, two brothers, two sister-in-laws, a daughter's boyfriend and almost every niece, nephew, grand-niece, and grand-nephew I have, plus seeing my high school classmates at our 25th reunion, not to mention coming home after a long drive, picking up our new puppy from her first weekend away and helping my kids organize plans with friends for sleepovers as they celebrate our town's fireworks displays, I am exhausted tonight. It was a full weekend but I am completely unsure as to where my focus is tonight.

When I get overwhelmed with anything in my life I have a tendency to pull myself away, to find that quiet spot where I can think. It's not always easy to do however, especially when a camp or a house is full of activity. Tonight for example, there are children in the family room, two teenage girls in the living room, another teen in her bedroom, and my husband has already headed upstairs for the respite of our master bedroom where he's enjoying Conan O'Brien on the tv in our room. The puppy has sacked out near our bed for the time being too. So, since the deck is wet with this afternoon's rains and the bugs are too bad for me to pull up a chair in my backyard, I've stolen away to my son's unoccupied bedroom to be able to hear my own thoughts...and to write.

My Mom and Dad, like me, enjoy seeing their family very much, and yet each of them can become overwhelmed as well. We like to tease Dad of his tendency to "go pick blueberries" when the children get too noisy at camp, whether or not the blueberries are ready for picking, and I, of course, turn to the dock, unless it too is loaded with others. When that's the case I take a walk or do my best to sink into a chair and escape with a good book. I love family but I'm not good with large crowds for too long. As I left camp today, however, it was quiet. My children and I had opted to skip the parade in favor of packing up to head back home in time to hit our community's fireworks. Just as we were leaving camp however, I paused to open a notebook titled "Camp Visits".

I thought I was opening a makeshift guest book that my Dad had us all sign in the past two years whenever we'd visit camp. It had replaced a fancier guest book that I'd bought years ago and had placed in my bunkhouse at camp. Dad had been telling me that the guest book no longer had free pages for everyone to record their visits and that he needed a new one, but I hadn't been able to find one to my particular liking so he'd given up and had bought an ordinary notebook so everyone could continue signing in, documenting their stay at the camp. But although there was one notebook that indeed had these various signatures inside, another notebook had familiar penmanship inside, my Mom's.

Here I was, about two minutes away from leaving camp for the weekend, when I saw pages and pages of my Mom's penmanship. I read several pages and found tears streaming down my face. Although I know that for years she has written on calendars and scraps of paper, since last year she had been writing inside this notebook, detailing she and Dad's trips up to camp, recording the weather, the duck families that went by out front, the activity across the cove, visitors, lunches, and other such happenings. I read an entry she wrote after my family had returned home last August. She wrote with pride of how my older daughter would be going to college early to attend dance team practices and how my younger daughter was overjoyed with plans to redecorate her bedroom in her sister's absence. Her words touched me. But her last entry, written about a week ago was my favorite. She wrote, "Very heavy clouds with Mt Katahdin half under the clouds. Lake very calm with no one on the lake from here anyway. Peaceful & quiet--who could ask for more".

Camp is beautiful--full of fun with little ones, exciting with family and friends who stop on by. The annual Fourth of July at the family camp comes with its share of activity! It's important to nurture the bonds between cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents and grandchildren and the only way that can be done is through the time and the talks that develop when we share the same space. I love that my Mom is helping to record everyone's visits and the day to day activity of camp life. But yes, you're right, Mom. When the lake is calm and camp is peaceful and quiet...who could ask for more?

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