Unfortunately there’s a big discrepancy in our family’s rising times: Nicole’s the early bird, Scooter likes to sleep in until the last possible moment, mom and dad fall somewhere in between. Nicole’s up by 7am and wakes us ready to explore. We notice Herb’s VW van parked next to ours. Terry’s friends must have arrived in the middle of the night. Ray’s jokester personality kicks in. He walks over and knocks hard on the window. Amidst rustling and swearing inside he exclaims gruffly, “Manager. That’ll be $2.00 please.” We can hear them grumbling, “What in the hell is he doing here? At this time in the morning?” Ray’s laugh can’t be quelled. They peek out the window with grumpy puffy faces, not at all amused by his prank.
“Jesus, Ray,” I roll my eyes and smile, “they’re going to get you back this time.”
Once we get organized and start making breakfast, the smell and sound of sizzling bacon brings everybody to the table. We catch up with our friends relating our “lost” stories. The children throw rocks into the mirror-like lake disturbing the water into wider and wider ripples. One of them skips by accident and a whole new game of skill begins. Because of the landscape we discover that the children’s voices disturb the air into echoes loud enough for even Scooter to hear. His face lights in intense wonder. “I can hear me!’ He laughs out loud. How many deaf children experience the echo of their own voices?
I tidy up the campsite while Daddy shows the kids how to dig and collect worms for fishing later. Even Nicole enjoys it and is proud of her courage. In our walk around the lake for good fishing and swimming holes, we encounter two young boys on the path, one holding up a large rattlesnake, the other brandishing the stick they used to kill it.
“Oh my God!” I immediately raise my out-stretched arms to block the children.
Ray yells, “Get back!”
The boys laugh. One says “Yea, it’s a big un’, ain’t it?’
The other points to the notches on the stick where they’re keeping count of their conquests. “Got eight already this summer.”
Scooter, eyes big with excitement, not fear says, “Now we’ve really got something to watch out for.”
Terry, Barb and another grad, Kathy, have arrived while we are out nature walking. We’re happy to see them. Though we’re only separated for days or weeks at a time, our reunions with this crew mean party-time. Unfortunately we forgot to buy beer and come to find out that all the counties around our campsite are “dry”. We make do with a half bottle of bourbon and whip up a joint meal of ham and bean soup with chicken and rice.
Kathy lays out her Tarot cards and with a slight glow on, her powers seem to increase. Ray goes first. He’s the only one of the guys that pays any heed to the occult. I have just taken up astrology, but am not very good at it yet. These changing times of peace, love and protest have given rise to changing attitudes not only about war, but religion. We’re throwing off the bonds of that one righteous God and looking for new avenues of spirituality.
Terry and Barb have just returned from seeing an old high school friend and his new wife, who’ve gone the other way and have “received the Word of God’. Terry tells us the story of their story in the small town in Alabama where the “promised land” is now located. All the followers have migrated there according to the Prophet’s mandate, no matter that they had to leave their homes and jobs. T and B were invited to attend the “camp meeting” and went out of curiosity more than anything else. They got quite a show. Several well-dressed preachers were on stage sermonizing on how they got their fancy suits and cars. “All by the grace of God.” The congregation could have the same if they believed and followed the right path; amidst wild incantations, laying on of hands, falling to the ground in trances, and speaking in tongues. What a show! Is their belief any different than my Catholic upbringing, reading Tarot cards, astrology? Yes, a whole hell of a lot. Trying to make sense of things as my mind and the world expands, is a challenge.