Sleeping Outside

Lake, rock, sun, rain…. much to my incredible surprise, we actually managed to camp on an island in Lake Champlain this summer. For years, we’ve gone every summer — the girls and I — sleeping in a lean-to and inevitably forgetting something.

This year, we wore masks on the ferry ride there. But for these 48 hours, for this bit, we lay on the rocks, swam in the cold water, ate by the fire, and kids were just kids again.

On our walk around the island, I stopped and talked with a woman sunbathing on the rocky beach. For five minutes, we gushed and talked — and then said goodbye, good luck, and I followed the girls who had already disappeared out of sight.

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Interlude of Laughing

Camping on the shore of Lake Champlain this weekend with three enthusiastic 13-year-old girls, we did summer staying-on-an-island things — we biked and we swam for hours (and I mean hours). We walked on the breakwater at sunset. The loons woke us with their crazy calling at night. I read; the girls explored.

And we talked and talked and talked. The girls, giggling, spied on a father camping nearby. He told his two tiny boys, who wore only orange crocs, that Whining and dessert are counter to each other.

Someday, I told the girls, they might hear themselves saying something equally inane as a parent.

The island’s grass, always so lush and cool, had withered brown with lack of rain. The last morning there, rain began just after dawn. I lay in the tent, listening to the welcome patter, and then, just as I believed rain might be settling in for a day, it abruptly ceased, as if shut off.

In the unrelieved humidity, we packed slowly.

A glossy bit of summer in the land of childhood.

Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.

— Flannery O’Connor

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Burton Island, Vermont