Tell Me a Story about … a Picnic!

Let’s make a movie in our minds! It’s the early 1970s. Imagine the excitement of a family from southern Pennsylvania packing to go on a vacation to their favorite spot … a cabin in the northern mountains of their state. They load the station wagon with sleeping bags, stuffed suitcases, filled coolers, sleepy children, and slobbering dogs. And they’re off!

Along the Susquehanna River, they meet a group of family members also going to this vacation spot and make a convoy of sorts. They head up Route 15, drive through Williamsport (home of the Little League Baseball Museum today, but not then), and take Picnic Aanother highway.

Finally, they turn onto the forested Route 287. Watching closely for white-tailed deer crossing the roads, they navigate curves, the three-mile hill, and the two-mile hill. Up ahead, they see the sign for the town of Morris, home of the Annual Morris Rattlesnake Round-Up. (Shiver!!) Time to break for lunch!

Now, let’s pause the movie and set the scene for the next part. Just outside of town, a pine-covered picnic glade sits off the road on the right, a perfect place to let dogs out to do their business, let restless children out to run, and let parents and grandparents have a break from the constant refrain of “Are we there yet?”Picnic B

Break out grandmother’s wicker picnic basket and unload the red and white checkered tablecloth, the sectioned plastic plates, and the gem-colored metallic tumblers. Haul out the Styrofoam and Coleman coolers full of sandwich materials, condiments (“Did you remember the catsup this time?”), potato and macaroni salads, chips, pretzels, and of course, home-baked cookies.

Wait! Don’t forget Nanny’s iced tea, the kind with the little bits of lemonade pulp! One gulp and the weariness of the trip washes away.

Everyone loads up their plates, and some sit at the picnic tables, others on green and white webbed lawn chairs. Kids gobble their food as quickly as possible to go play by the creek.

Picnic DAh, the creek … the pièce de résistance! This part of the scene delights kids and adults alike. The typical rocky bed, bubbling clear waters, and slippery mudpuppies provides entertainment for the kiddos. Their elders enjoy relaxing by its edge, entranced as usual by the rust-colored rocks sparkling in the sunlight, looking to be dusted with gold specks. The respite refreshes the vacationers and helps them get back on the road ready to finish the last leg of the journey.

What makes those creek-side picnics such a poignant part of my memories? As though taking part in this movie, I see the bright red of my grandmother’s Comet along the road and the ruby, sapphire, and emerald tumblers filled with cold drinks. I hear the children laughing and the water gurgling. I feel the give of the webbed mesh on the lawn chairs or the sturdiness of the picnic bench. I smell the pine needles covering the ground in a blanket of russet and green and the yellow mustard as it squirts from the bottle onto a ham sandwich. And oh, yes, I taste the iced tea with lemon, the bits of pulp getting caught in my teeth.

All those senses fill my mind … and my heart. But the thing that brings the memory of Picnic Cthese picnics into a reality is the rusty creek and the love of family. The unusual colors of the creek made it a favored spot for the yearly picnic on our trip to Potter County. And the family members who made up the entourage made the picnics a time of joy, a time to be remembered with love.

Today, the rusty creek is no longer rust-colored for some reason. The picnic glade is no longer there. But whenever we have the chance to head up Route 287 on our way to the cabin, I wait for the sign for Morris. I peer out the window of the car to see if the creek’s coloring came back. I check once again to see if the picnic area was reinstated. And even though those things are gone forever, if we slow the car and wind the windows down, I can almost hear someone ask, “You didn’t forget the iced tea, did you?”

 

What picnic places fill the senses of your memories? Or maybe it’s the special foods … the dishware … the tablecloth. Then again, maybe it’s just the love. Please share your picnic memories with us. Blessings!

Tell Me a Story about … deer!

8-9-18 C (2)I love this photo taken by our daughter Faith. First, I think the photo itself showcases her photography gifting. Second, I enjoy the walks we take in the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, also called Pine Creek Gorge, where she took this photo. And finally, I love it because I love the whitetail deer!

If asked my favorite sport, I’d say, “Spotting deer.” As evening falls at the cabin, most of us start changing clothes and getting flashlights and cameras ready for one of the most fun parts of our day. In the higher mountains, cooler air from a rolled-down window brings a chill not there during the day, so shorts and T-shirts are exchanged for jeans and sweatshirts. In my childhood and part of our daughters’, we would need heavy coats and gloves to keep warm enough. Global warming, I suppose. Smaller children get pajamas so they can transition to bed easier once we get back.

Discussions come next about who rides in whose car. Young people prefer to ride together so they can chat; older people prefer the luxury of space to sit in comfort. And the rest, well, they get shoved in here and there. Then we pick where to start for drivers to know the route for the caravan. Do we begin on “Alan’s Road,” so dubbed after my Uncle Alan bought his own camp on it? Or take a chance at seeing a bear near Lyman Lake before it got dark?

Last, arguments break out if there are any youth along about whose turn it is to use the spotlight. This coveted position gives the one spotting the best view of the deer or bear or porcupine or, if certain people are along, a yeti (for those who believe in that story or to scare those who don’t).

My excitement equals that of the youngest spotters as we turn onto the first dirt road. 8-9-18 EWatching the spotlight or the headlights, depending on our seat in the car, we wait for glimpses of shining eyes in the spotlight or some critter crossing the road in front of us. I never lose the delight of a doe’s warm eyes if close enough to see them or of the white spots dotting the tiny fawns. I never tire of using the binoculars to see if the deer sports antlers to excite the hunters in the car. And I never forget the count … um, was that fifty-two or fifty-three … oh well, maybe I do. 

God blessed us with an amazing world full of animals to watch and care for and love. To me, the sight of deer frolicking in a meadow or stretching their graceful necks to reach the apples on the tree will never fail to bring a smile and fill my day with an extra measure of joy.

*** Did you ever go spotting deer? Tell us about your times or about another “deer” story you have in mind. Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

*** If you leave a comment, check back for my reply to it. I always respond to comments!

*** Next week, in honor of back-to-school, I’ll share a story from our homeschool days!

Tell Me a Story about … a Lane!

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane … or at least down the memories of a certain lane, the one leading from the main road to the cabin we call camp.

Dirt or grassy lanes draw me, entice me to follow them. Deer trails, hiking paths, even lawn mower tracks say, “Come see where I go!” But I know exactly where the lane to the cabin goes—my heaven on earth.

No matter how old I get, the thrill of watching as we round the 8-20-18 Bbends in the road from Galeton, PA, toward camp never lessens. I inch forward on the seat, straining against the seatbelt, picturing the final turn. There it is! The farm where the owner lives and the barn where he used to milk his cows in days gone by. (I would watch the owner’s kids bring the cows from the pasture, across the creek, and down the lane to the barn, only to repeat it the next morning in reverse.) The lane, tucked between the two buildings, never changes, except from rutted and dusty in the hottest months to rutted and muddy from recent rain showers.

8-20-18 ARounding the first corner, we come to a one-lane wooden bridge. I close my eyes and bring back the times when, as youths, my brothers or I would get out of the car to unhook and re-hook the chains across the entrance and exit of the bridge, although we could never understand why they needed a chain stretched across both ends of a one-car-length bridge. Today, no chains bar the way, but the ghosts of them clank in my mind as we cross.

I’m now almost bouncing in my seat like a toddler on a jumping horse. Another few yards and I’ll be able to see the cabin! There’s the other camp on the right which never has any vacationers, but where we once saw a bear digging in the rusty burn barrel in plain daylight. My mom had wound her window down to talk to him … until he advanced toward the car. Wow, could she ever wind up a window fast! Good thing it wasn’t one of those slow-moving automatic jobs, right?

“We’re here! We’re here!” Echoes of our joyous cries from childhood mingle with today’s yaps of our dog as he catches onto my excitement, not really understanding it, but knowing it must be something fun. And oh, how right he is. But it’s also so much more—it’s family, it’s home, it’s8-20-18 E (2) heaven—even if it’s only for a week.

We pull up in front of the porch and I push at the car door, wondering why it won’t open, then laughing at myself for not pulling on the handle first. The first gurgling of the creek hits my ears, the first musty scent from the open cabin door fills my nose and my memories, taking me back to the days of my youth, when four scrambling dogs, three wild kids, and two grateful parents poured from the side doors and back hatch of our loaded-down-and-overflowing station wagon.

We’re here! The end of the lane—but not the end of the memories, not when we make new ones each time we drive back this particular memory lane.

*** Where has a lane led you in your life? Tell us about it! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

*** Next week’s post sports one of my favorite photos our photographer daughter has taken!

 

Tell Me a Story about … a Creek!

8-13-18 C (2)Thunder echoed through the hollow, rattling the loose window pane in the cabin door. The afternoon’s thunderstorm had grown into a wailing, angry force, and with the darkness, it seemed to be trying to fight its way inside the cabin. Rain pounded the roof, wind howled and whipped the walls and windows. Lightning bolts streaked across the night sky, leaving eerie periods of illumination.

Inside the cabin, most of the children and adults slept through the ruckus. Some of us, however, could not. Thunder storms bouncing around the mountains could scare an avid storm-chaser, but this one seemed more intense than any before. It roared overhead and burst from the hollow as though chased by unseen demons.

We could hear the water of the small creek, which had gently flowed between its banks during 8-13-18 Bthe earlier part of the day, change to something from a movie about whitewater rafting. Huge crashes, one after another, sounded like dynamite exploding, first up the hollow a ways, then closer, in front of the cabin in which we sat listening, shivering, wondering if the building would blow apart any second.

After the long night of sleepless terrors, the morning showed the incredible power of the storm. The sun had returned, but the torrential rains had swollen the creek, swirling waters pounded the banks, seeking an outlet to the tension from the night before. The ground felt swampy beneath our feet.

What astounded us most was the layout of the creek itself. It did not resemble that of 8-13-18 Ayesterday, nor of the years I’d spent wading its waters. During the night, what we mistook for thunder was huge boulders tossed by rising waters. Rocks, as large as monster truck tires, had been tossed like leaves across the water and deposited in another section of the creek hundreds of feet downstream. The power necessary to uproot these boulders from where they’d sat for who knows how long and tumble them like children’s building blocks to a new resting place, seemed unimaginable. We’d heard it, we saw the aftermath, but we couldn’t take it in.

 That storm made us more aware of our human frailty and God’s power. He created the earth with a word, causes the storms to rumble, commands the sun and moon to rise and set. His power can toss a boulder, crumble it to bits, yet He created us, frail human beings who need His help to breathe and live each day. And He does so because He loves us. Wow … 

 *** Do you have a memory about a creek you’d like to share with us? Please do! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

 *** Next week, a post written while vacationing this weekend at this wonderful place!

 

Tell Me a Story about … Camp!

Only four days! Four days until we pack the car with duffel bags, pillows, sleeping bags … and the dog, and head for Potter County and CAMP!Potter County!!

Oh, how I love that word! That place! Camp to others may mean somewhere they attended as a child—playing games and learning songs around a campfire for a week each summer. To some it brings memories of camping adventures, with a tent or an RV, doing all the same things as at summer camps only with family and close friends.

But to me, “camp” holds all my most-cherished memories. Over the life of this blog, I’ll share many of those with you, starting with the posts for August, one of our favorite months to go there.

The cabin we call “camp” sits at the base of a mountain and at the mouth of a hollow, alongside a creek, in the Blue Mountain range of Potter County, PA. The Jolly 9 Hunting Club rents the cabin for its members to use during hunting and fishing seasons. These members can reserve times to take their families and friends there for vacations.

Our extended family all planned their vacation times for the same week and traveled by caravan. A hand waved out a window or flashing headlights seen in a rear-view mirror alerted others to stop for a bathroom break for kids or dogs. The trip included a picnic lunch beside the “rusty creek,” a gorgeous, shaded pine grove by the side of a creek with mineral deposits which caused the rocks to become rust-colored.
Camp!!!
Upon arrival at camp, everyone chose their favorite bunks and unpacked. Having so many people together in a three-room cabin, caused quite a bit of noise. With the original exposed beams on the ceiling and walls, we could really “make those rafters ring.” From the smallest child to the oldest adult, merry-making filled the days and nights.

By day, we waded in the creek less than a stone’s toss from the front porch or played the old-fashioned game of quoits, similar to horseshoes except with donut-shaped rubber quoits to toss over the posts. At night, we went spotting deer and toad-finding (after a rainstorm), finishing off with cocoa, hot enough to make it gooey with melting marshmallows. Then we’d break out the cards and play rounds of rummy, Uno, or Blitz until well after midnight, a double delight for us kids.

In fact, the only activity in this idyllic place which did not include the word “fun” was the necessary treks to the outhouse. But no one seemed to truly mind … well, except my one sister-in-love, who detested any speck of dirt and would have gladly scrubbed it down with Clorox and Lysol. One time, my dad snuck out before she got up in the morning and posted a sign on the outhouse door: “Sister’s dreamhouse”! (Name changed to protect the innocent!)

Camp! Less than four days to go! See you there!

*** What does the word “camp” bring to your memory bank? Please, share your story! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

 *** Next week, another post about this marvelous place!