pine trees

imageAs we head into summer, many people start making plans to go camping. Bob and I like hiking a lot, but we really don’t go camping…strange I suppose, especially considering the fact that my parents took my sisters and me camping every summer of our childhood. And, I liked camping then, but Bob and I like the comforts of a motel room, and we get our nature fix when we go hiking. I know lots of people would laugh at that idea, but to each his own, I say. Things change and people change, and that isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a different thing than before. I still love to sit around the campfire at night, just enjoying the warmth and beauty of the flames, but it sometimes gets pretty cold at night, and in the early morning, and standing around a campfire in my coat wishing I was warmer, isn’t my idea of fun.

Still, the memories of the days when we went camping are fond ones. We used to sit around the campfire until midnight or later, and then sleep in the next morning. We woke up to the smell of the campfire and coffee brewing. It was a smell that sure could make you hungry, and then you still had to wait until breakfast was cooked before you could eat. The pine trees gave off a scent all their own too, and to this day, the scent of real pine trees, reminds me of camping…and of being out in the fresh air. Memories…like echoes of my past.

I don’t miss camping so much, but I miss those days in my childhood…days when we were all together, with no one missing. I think that was what made camping fun. Being out in the woods, but always knowing that my dad was there to keep us safe. Being outside at night, but knowing that Dad would keep the fire going, to keep the bears away. It was such a special time in our lives, and I don’t think I could feel the same about it now. And yet, I don’t think I will always be able to see, in my mind’s eye, those memories…the echoes of my past.

My parents were hard working people in their working years. They always made sure that we had whatever they needed to have a good life. One of the greatest gifts they gave us was travel. For as long as I can remember, we took a summer vacation and went somewhere! The places we went were varied. But, I can say that we have been in more states than many of the people we knew, and our teachers were surprised when they asked us what we did on our summer vacation. It was one of the richest, most priceless gifts my parents gave their daughters. A unique view of the country we live in.

Mom and Dad loved the outdoors. They loved being in their garden and backyard. They created many new gardening designs and they were beautiful. Their yard was their favorite project. I remember so many family gatherings being held there, under the shade of the several big trees they had. Dad would be at the grill cooking our meat, and us girls would be helping Mom in the kitchen getting things ready for the family dinner that would follow. These days, families just don’t eat together as much as they used to. I notice that even Bob and I, with the caregiving obligations we both have, will eat our evening meal alone as often as not. Not so in my childhood. Mom and Dad wanted our family to have as many meals together as we could. I suppose that was because they knew that all too soon, that would end.

They loved their home, yard, and garden, but the places they loved the best were when they were out in the woods, camping. They loved to wake up in the morning and make breakfast over the campfire, with the smell of the pine trees heavy in the air, and the birds singing all around. They never liked the lake much, but the mountains, were their place of refuge. Their chance to get away from the hurry up world we live in. So many people can’t seem to allow themselves to slow down or sleep in, and just take life at a slower pace, but when we traveled, Dad was never in a hurry. We would get where we were going…and see the beauty of the world around us along the way. Yes, Mom and Dad gave us a wonderful life, and opened the door to a world of beautiful places and things…the places they loved the best.

My mom had relatives who lived in Cascade, Idaho, and I remember going up there for visits as a child. The area is beautiful, and their home were practically right up in the mountains. The trees were pine trees, and the air was fragrant and cool, even in the summertime. We had a wonderful time every time we visited. It was almost like camping out, even though we weren’t. These were my mom’s aunts and uncles, her mother’s family, and they were wonderful people.

There were enough people in our family that it was not possible for us to stay at the same house, so we split up, which was fun in itself. I got to feel like I was at summer camp…sort of. I always stayed at Uncle Austin and Aunt Abby’s house, and they had this cool little day bed at the top of the stairs that I got to sleep in. It was a little scary at first, when the lights were turned out, but I got used to it, and then it was fine. I will never forget that bed. It was so strange to have a bed at the top of a stairway.

I’m not sure where everyone else slept, but I do know that Cheryl got to stay at Aunt Ada’s house. I wish I could tell you more about how things were over there, but I don’t remember. Chery and I were talking about this the other night, and she reminded me of the apple butter my aunt made. I do remember that, now that she reminds me of it. It was wonderful…in fact, as I recall, all the food was wonderful. There is just something about eating your food in a mountain area, that made everything taste better. Cheryl reminded me about the Apple Butter…oh yes, it was the best I have ever tasted. In fact, I think it was the first Apple Butter I had ever tasted. I suppose that is why it was so good.

In fact, just about everything about being up there in Cascade, Idaho was great. The small town in the mountains that was so big in my past that I can still see it in my imagination. The cousins, and the fun, the food, and so much more. Just a very special time.

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