Archive for the ‘Deer Camp’ Category

While most teachers can regale you with stories about memorable students, both angelic and demon-possessed, most often our best stories are about our own epic classroom failures.

Once upon a time a friend of mine, Anne, was really and truly wound up, delivering a passionate lecture on Thoreau and his year at Walden Pond to a room full of 16-year-olds. She was on a serious roll.

Eyes blazing, cheeks flushed and waving her personal dog-eared paperback copy of Thoreau to the class, she knew every eye was riveted on her. This was one of those magic adrenaline-washed  moments that we all dream of.

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Time for the Big Finish.  Voice ringing with emotion, she declared “Ladies and gentlemen, I will tell you that if Thoreau was in front of you right now, he would say ‘Throw off your fine designer clothes, grab your hoes and head for the woods.'”

It pretty much took her the rest of the hour to peel those kids off the walls.

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Prepping these shots, I couldn’t help but think of Anne and those cast-off over-priced designer tee shirts she and Henry David Thoreau were railing against. Hard to say if the pine snakes from my last post are big fans of Thoreau or not, but they do cast off their fine garments from time to time.

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Caution: if you suffer from ophidiophobia or a deep fear of snakes, stop here and catch up with me in a day or so. (Three images)

Yahoo! Time for our annual trek to Camp ZZ tucked deep in the heart of the UP. Four days of no electricity and no wi-fi, it is true, but a generator, pump, marine batteries, gas-driven fridge…you get the idea. Roughing it? Yes. Will CBS schedule “Survivor: U.P.” at this locale? Not so much. But there is no Starbucks within a hundred miles.

And I did draw a top bunk this time. There’s a weird time travel thing going on here: the guys who own the camp bought the bunk beds from Northern Michigan University in Marquette and installed them at camp. We all lived in the dorms at NMU mumblety-mumble years ago (the earth was still flat) so it is POSSIBLE that I have travelled all this way in my life just to climb into the same bunk I slept in as a 20-year-old.

This is a same-but-different aside,  but I have never returned to the house I grew up in since it was sold. It’s my understanding that it has been turned into a Ribs-to-Go joint. Wabi Sabi has an inventive mind, but even she could not fabricate that little detail.

We got up close and personal with a couple of the fulltime residents of the camp who are in charge of rodent and critter management: the pine snake or western fox snake (elaphe vulpine.) Three of them, actually, though I was assured that they do not travel in packs. Everything that I have read since I came home says that the snakes are from 3 to 5 feet in length. Huh! The first fellow shown here is 10 feet long, there is one checking in at 8 feet and then one at the prescribed 5 foot mark.

Even if snakes DO scare you spitless (and truly, I am not a big fan) put that aside for a moment, click on the images for greater detail and marvel at how beautiful their skin is against the wood.

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Delight can be in the details. With that in mind, I packed my “nifty 50” for our adventure at camp and was not disappointed.

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This next one reminds me of the simple abstract Buddha symbol used by Shambhala Press:

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And, of course, no deer camp would be complete without these:

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I didn’t bring my big camera out in the fields, so I will have to rely on memories of the endless purple and gold waves of wildflowers, clouds of orange butterflies, vast tracts of raspberries and the perfumes of both summer woods and deep black muddy swamps. No electricity or Wi-Fi at camp, but gas-power, a generator, a pump and some big honking batteries. As I settled into my bunk on Saturday night, I was roughing it, yes, but the Messrs. iPod and Kindle (with additional support provided by my Argentinian friend, Sr. Malbec ) meant I could drift off to sleep listening to Dave Brubeck and reading Elmore Leonard and reflecting that moments of genuine bone-deep happiness can come in the most unexpected places.