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STORM: The underrated pleasure of goofing around


Sunday, September 10, 2017

I adore fall, but when I was young, summer reigned supreme among the seasons. Summer was the time for adventures and the highly underrated pleasure of goofing off. It was also the time for camp.

When my siblings and I refer to camp, we are not talking about some organized enrichment endeavor. To us, camp was a set of two ramshackle cabins in the hills of western Massachusetts surrounded by towering trees and only steps away from a cool, shimmering lake. It was, almost certainly, our favorite place on Earth.

The cabins at camp were built by my great-grandfather, who believed in making do with what he had. He hammered together scrap lumber, hauled cement blocks to the site and decorated the buildings’ interiors with rustic stone fireplaces and overhead chandeliers crafted from wagon wheels. My grandmother — Nana — spent much of her summer in the larger of the two cabins. When we visited, my family and I settled into the little cabin.

It was a rustic existence. A small generator provided electric power but there was no running water — only a hand pump. There wasn’t any indoor plumbing either, which led to spooky trips to the outhouse late at night.

Despite this, camp was like heaven. My brother, sisters and I spend our days roaming around the woods or splashing in the lake. No one nagged us about taking a bath and scrubbing behind our ears. We swam off the dirt that accumulated from walks back and fourth to the cabin.

There was a small, electric hot plate in out cabin, but we seldom used it. Mostly we subsisted on sandwiches out of our cooler, which Mom restocked with runs into town. Mom enjoyed those trips, because she had a chance to drop my Nana’s winter residence and take a shower. 

When we got sick of sandwiches, the family would go “out to eat” at a hot dog stand down the hill. That stand was a great favorite among us, and we were constantly looking for short cuts — or shorty cuts as my youngest sister called them — to get there faster. Getting lost was part of the risk, but also part of the fun.

We occasionally met new friends. One year in particular I met a girl from a neighboring property who was just my age, and we spent the day climbing trees and discussing our deeply held beliefs — i.e. worms are gross but turtles are rather nice. We actually stayed out until after dark which earned me a stern lecture and a sentence of playing indoors for the following day. So I never saw my friend again, which is a shame because she could climb a tree like nobody’s business. 

As the years passed, my siblings and I began to work summer jobs and the trips to camp ended — along with opportunities to do almost nothing all day.

These days, my goofing around is generally limited to taking an extra-long nap in between chores on a Sunday afternoon. I have ceded the real goofing around mantle to my two little dogs, Ollie and Einstein, who excel at running from room to room in the house, barking at squirrels and holding impromptu wresting matches on the living room couch. 

They have their own deeply held philosophies — worms are tasty but turtles are rather dull — and know well how to entertain themselves for hours. Indeed, the Storm boys would adore camp as they don’t give a fig about indoor plumbing and hate baths. And if there ever was a shorty cut to the hot dog stand to be found, you can bet they would discover it in a heartbeat.

Contact Janet Storm at jstorm@reflector.com or 252-329-9587.