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We pitch our tent for an overnight camping trip.
By Hannah Wallace
CCB and I headed to Lake Manatee State Park this weekend to camp with the Harribles. While the two of us were just in it for the fresh air and whatnot, the Harribles were also tasked with helping their son, the Boy, perform some Cub Scouts duties—appreciating nature and hard work and all that jazz.
Mrs. Harrible teaches the boy how to start a fire.
First up: the nature hike.
I’m a horrible Floridian in that apparently I don’t at all pay attention to the things around me. Given the excuse to ask questions about the plants along the trail, I realized just how many things pass me by without any acknowledgement of their unique features. Things that would normally be deemed “pine trees” without another thought suddenly broke apart into several strikingly different species, and it seemed bizarre, looking closely at them, that we could even refer to them all with the same name. Bushes, grasses, berries, flowers—I found myself surrounded by things I had no names for, beyond “plant” and “weed.” And so, with several pages of information provided by the ranger station, we walked along the trail searching for plants we hadn’t yet identified.
Halfway through the hike, I spotted a piece of trash 10 or 15 feet off the trail. Declaring myself a good Samaritan, I marched over to pick it up and saw it was a faded can with an old-school “pop top” tab opening. I dusted off the sand and investigated the embossment on the lid: “Schlitz Brewing Co.”
I really am the only person I know who can go on a nature hike and come back with a souvenir beer can.
(Also awesome was that this discovery afforded me the opportunity to recite this Tomato Nation assessment of the Schlitz ads of the 80s: “’When you're out of Schlitz, you're out of beer.’ And you're happy about it, too, because if you wanted a beer that tasted like fish, you'd have dunked a Maryland crab cake in your Sam Adams.”)
But nature wasn’t the only camping lesson the Boy was to absorb. Mrs. Harrible explained that we were to discuss the value of doing things together, “as a family.” As if CCB and I needed a refrain for the peanut gallery.
“Boy, put down that stick before I beat you with it.”
“Child abuse is fun, when you do it as a family.”
“Hey, what are you—DON’T PUT THAT IN THE FIRE!”
“I’m so glad we had this opportunity to enjoy pyromania together as a family.”
Mr. Harrible wholly endorses Hunts Ketchup for camping hot dogs.
Jokes aside, it was a good time. Camping is like hitting the refresh button: 24 hours without television (or mirrors), moving only as far as your feet will take you, staring at a campfire and going to bed and getting up without once looking at a clock. It takes you to a place where activities are the things you have to do rather than just to pass the time. Setting up shelter, gathering firewood, starting a fire, cooking—all these things have a refreshing necessity to them. As cluttered as my mind gets, it’s nice to remove all options once in a while and just…be.
It's amazing the things you can cook over a campfire. For breakfast: coffee, a Pop Tart and a mini donut.
Here’s where you can add your own segue between the satisfaction of camping and the traditions and history of Thanksgiving.
Back in civilization, CCB and I are again hosting my parents for a Thanksgiving Day feast of deep-fried turkey with all the fixings. It’s a hot-oil holiday disaster waiting to happen! I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, and I’ll see you when Christmas shopping season has officially begun!