Thursday, March 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday: The Camp

It was warm like spring just two days ago. Now, it is cold and incredibly windy, making it even colder. Only thoughts of summer and vacations in New Hampshire seem to warm me up on this blustery day that has no business being in the middle of March.

I have lived in many place - southeastern Massachusetts, western Massachusetts (college), Boston (grad school) and northern NJ.  I have called all these places home, but only one place has remained constant, only one place is really home and it is the one place at which I have spent the least amount of time.  Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.

Since before I can remember, my family in its various incarnations has spent a week or two in Alton, NH, in a house we affectionately call "the camp" for a reason I can either no longer remember or for no reason at all.

When I was a tiny one, my parents, my mom's parents and her brothers and their families would trek from Massachusetts to the lake, to the house that my father's father bought back in the 1920's.  The drive that takes two hours now, took over four back in the 1960's.  We would be jammed into every nook and cranny in the three bedrooms and the "annex," a little room perched over the garage that was up a flight of outdoor stairs accessed by a door in the kitchen. There got to be so many of us that my parents bought a little cabin in the woods and filled it with bunk beds so that everyone could come. 

I have only the vaguest recollection of those days, but even now, my grandfather's hat sits on a hook in the bedroom he and my grandmother used although they have been gone for over 40 years. The beds did not have boxsprings, but ropes to hold the mattress. There was no TV. The refrigerator was on the porch, not in the kitchen. We could hear chipmunks running in the walls.  And we loved every minute of it.

By the time I hit my teens, only my immediate family went to the lake.  We would spend the mornings on field trips to local attractions and the afternoons swimming or paddling the rowboat or just lying on the dock.  Around 3pm, my mom would bring down watermelon and would we compete to see who could spit the seeds the furthest.

When I went off to grad school and my brother went off to college, we stopped going to the lake. We were too cool to spend our time in a house that didn't have a shower and didn't have water you could drink.  I was too cool to sleep in a bed without a boxspring.

Years passed. My parents sold the cabin in the woods. The camp began to have seen better days.

I got married. I was suddenly old enough to appreciate what I thought as a teen was lame and boring. In 1987, my husband and I decided to go to the lake to see the foliage, but we found we could not stay at the camp. Work was needed. And so work was done. No more hauling drinkable water.  A shower was put in the bathroom. Walls and ceilings were replaced.  A new kitchen was put in - one with a refrigerator inside the house.

But the essential feeling of the camp remained. 

And then a new generation came to the lake.  It was my husband's family - his siblings and their children - who made the trek from NJ to the NH with my husband and my two boys. My parents bought a second house - one that is accessible for older adults - and so we crammed ourselves into every nook and cranny once again. Those were the golden years when we would go north the day after school ended for a week and then again for a couple of weeks in August with everyone in tow.  And we all had an amazing time. 

But now, things are changing again.  That next generation is in college or grad school.  They do not want to go to the lake for, you see, they are too cool to hang out on a dock or swim or drive around in the boat (a motorboat came into the picture back in 1993) or visit the local attractions. There are no game systems at the camp although there is cable TV and even wifi now.  

We are not sure what this summer will bring. As our lives are beginning to simplify, the lives of our children are becoming more complicated.

But I have my photos and my memories of a simpler time - when we had to go out to the well, shoo away the water bugs and the frogs, and dip the enamel bucket into the water.  It was, without question, the best water in the world.


Layout Notes:

The tree embellishment is a stamp on Stampbord, a piece of pressed wood with a layer of white clay on the surface. After inking and stamping, you can scrape away some of the ink to reveal the clay underneath. It is a great substance for shading and highlighting. 

Supplies: Paper - SEI; paint - Folk Art; markers - Zig. Y&C Gel Extreme; ink - Ranger Distress Ink; letters - Jillibean Soup.

Tree embellishment - Stampbord, Smooch, Ranger Distress Ink, stamp (Unity Stamp Company), Zig marker.