Camping with my Bro
With the VW bug loaded with provisions, we drove to Sebago Lake State Park, and located our campsite. Admittedly, it was not quite the setting I had pictured, large campers flanked us and a Winnebago took point in our platoon like formation of campsites. Vaughn pulled out this army issued piece of canvas cloth, someone in procurement called a tent. He stuck up two poles and a ‘ridge’ beam, each of which looked like it came out of dad’s barn. He pounded four stakes, like daggers into hard packed ground, but like the heart of a vampire the ground would not yield and one of the stakes barely penetrated the ground. Later that night, the rains came, the lighting flashed, the thunder roared, and the winds came to blow our tent down. Vaughn was up and wide awake as if conditioned by hundreds of military drills, he dashed out of the tent, telling me to stay. In the unrelenting down-pour, he hurried about the tent, suddenly, louder than the thunder itself, he shrieked, but continued like MacGyver on TV, to contrive some mechanism involving rope, fender, and tree in order to support the tent and keep me, at least, dry under its shelter. He shouted above the rain that he’d sleep the rest of the night in the car. I remember hearing the door to the VW slam, and then just the rain.
The morning came, cool puddles were everywhere, and everything was soaked but me. I peered into the bug Vaughn’s stubbly face looked strange as it was torqued at a weird angle to the right. He was partly on his side, kind of curled into a fetal position with his right knee wedge between the black knob shifter and dash, and his left hip jammed under the steering column. VW Bugs were not meant for sleeping. I rapped on the glass.
His eyes opened quickly, but his movements were subdued, tentative, as he experimentally uncoiled himself and got out the bug. I noticed that he limped, he had his foot wrapped. During the storm, in his barefooted rush to secure the tent for me, he had stepped on that stake. He had wrapped his foot in an extra sock or two, but that didn’t seem to help much. He opened the trunk and reached for the styrofoam cooler lifting the cooler asking me what kind of eggs I wanted.
The styrofoam handle broke, the cooler fell back into the trunk and he paused for a time. The morning’s gentle breeze stopped blowing, the chickadees on their branches stopped singing their happy song… Finally, he spoke, “I think we will have scrambled.” We left for home shortly after breakfast.
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