Friday dawned cloudy and breezy, but was slated to be dry at least. I packed two rubbermaid boxes of stuff for Steve to ship to Maryland to make more room in the van. And really, how much fun is it to send yourself a present of damp dirty clothes? yay! Mildew and sand!
In reality, it rained a bit on and off and the temperature fluctuated wildly, so that we were always peeling off or piling on the layers. I went to a talk about harvesting and using sumac. It was pretty cool and I’ve even used that knowledge since coming home. I pulled off to the side of the road and stepped into an unseen ditch and staggered up the other side and picked a whole bagful of heads. I processed it while watching Project Runway, just like our Native American forbears.
It warmed up enough that I decided to brave the cold lake waters. Emily had gone in once a couple of days ago. The girls had gone in nearly every day. but it was cooooold. I went in slowly, exclaiming rather a lot, but I did it. The Minnesotans mocked me.
I must admit, though, that once in, it felt good. And getting out, I felt so CLEAN, like I sparkled (probably just the nerve endings waking up again). Of course, that was all out the window as soon as I squelched back into Camp Soggy Bottom, but I at least got the street cred from going into the lake.
Then it was time to start cooking for the potluck. I opted for chili- one pot vegetarian, one pot containing venison jerky. Michael cooked some of the bear and some chanterelles that were harvested from the woods that morning. Yes, we made him double check with several people that they were, in fact, edible.
The potluck was great, as usual. Like last year, most dishes were either vegetarian or wild game. I even got to try woodchuck, which was identified by a ripped piece of paper with “wOodChuCK” scrawled on it with charred stick. I am embarrassed to have not taken a photo. For the record, it was meh, not something I’d request, but good to know I could eat one if I had to. Lord knows we have plenty. Lots of bear dishes, of course. And, like last year, there was barely a groundnut left when it was over. Om nom nom!
I skipped the next morning’s closing circle. It tends to be teary and long and I needed to get us packed up and out. Hardening my heart for the trip back out to the World, you know. Ben had finished his bow at last, so he and Steve and Michael went to the archery range to give it a work out. The mosquitoes were apparently epic, so they weren’t there long.
We piled in and were on the road by 11. I had washed one pair of my nylon pants in the lake and wore themthem on Saturday for the drive out. I was just off the property when it became clear that the pants were filthy by non-camp standards. The kids were likewise nasty. Luckily wie didn’t need to go into any restaurants. Or gas stations. We headed home via the Upper Peninsula. I was, once again, staggered by how BIG Michigan is. We didn’t even make it out before nightfall. America is large and mostly empty. Most of the UP is for sale. Old Howard Johnsons that have become Knights Inns are a little creepy. But cheap.
We got home at 8:30 on Sunday night and the kids were out the door for the first day of school at 8:30 Monday morning.
A few side notes, and then pictures:
–on the beach, you can find “grandfather stones” these really oddly beautiful rock formations. I can only find this web entry about them, an excerpt from Weird Wisconsin. They are sacred to the Bad River tribe, so they ask that you leave them there. It’s hard to do b/c they are SUPER cool, but the thought of angry Native American spirits hanging around my house is a pretty good deterrent. Even if they would be helpful to have around at sumac processing time.
–One of Buckskin Brad’s kids was peeing literally every time I saw him. I came to suspect that he was not an actual child, but one of those weird “time out” dolls that were perversely popular a while back.
–There were 200 folks at the Gathering, and 70 of them were kids. Or 60. Can’t recall. Loads. Many of them in the one year-18 mos range. Most of them bare bottomed and apple cheeked. So. flippin’. cute.