when i was a child, my family would drive down the gravel road to the greenhouse at the start of every summer. stepping inside the tent was like stumbling upon my own narnia, where it’s always june instead of perpetually winter. the perfume of so many flowers mingled together in the humid air. puddles on the floor reflected back the rainbow of blooms. bugs flitted from plant to plant. the atmosphere made it easy to pretend that i was the goddess demeter and the growing beauty all around me was my own handiwork.
my father would tell my brother and i that we could each pick one plant to bring home. my brother always chose something spiky and blossom-less, such as a serrated-edged, deep purple persian shield or a dark succulent. time after time, i was drawn to the romantic array of cherry, fuchsia, punch-pink, and candy cane geraniums. i always bought one and my brother always got a plant as sharp as his personality. some things are as predictable as the sunrise, and our greenhouse habits are no exception.
when my brother and i placed our special flowers on the counter beside my dad’s box of purchases, the worker would adjust her sin sifter and let us pick out a free marigold. there was a box of fiery blooms in the windowsill, straining for the sun. my brother would claim an orange one and i would choose yellow, and we would hold them in our laps on the ride home and plant them side by side in the yard.
my brother doesn’t care for flowers anymore. our family goes to the greenhouse without him, and i’m allowed as many plants as i would like. the woman behind the counter no longer offers me a marigold.
if we went early enough in the summer, there would be a cage around the back of the greenhouse where they kept easter bunnies. i cupped them in my hands one by one, trembling pompoms with a heartbeat, watching their bubblegum noses twitch and their fur flit around in the breeze. i begged my parents for one — promised that i would make its life heaven on earth, read every book about taking care of rabbits that i could get my hands on — but they never agreed. it’s too much responsibility for you, they said. the cats wouldn’t like them. bunnies are mean, anyway. so i never got a rabbit, and at some point, they got rid of the cages and i never held another easter bunny.
a year or two ago, i went on a walk one dusty, golden evening, and my feet led me down the gravel road to the greenhouse. i paused by the sign announcing the valley’s favorite greenhouse and stared out across the soy fields. birds rustled and sang from the crops and danced duets in the pale sky. the sun-warmed rocks beneath my bare, callused feet became too intense as i stood there, absorbing a picturesque summer sunset in the country, so i scooted off into the grass beside the road. wild strawberries poked up around my toes. a gemstone beetle crawled across a daisy as it continued its steady journey back home.
i have only known creekside junes and julys, spent hunting water snakes on slippery rocks, staining my lips and fingertips with blackberries, biking by myself through corn fields, burning marshmallows in the backyard while watching a shooting star overhead. the ache of every perfect summer i will never experience is eating me alive.
school ends for me in about two weeks, so i thought it was an appropriate time to post this. i’ve been joking about how this is my last summer of freedom before i go to public school full time, but i guess it’s actually true. i’m going to try and have fun this summer, so i made a list of ten things i want to do over the next few months.
when i go back to school, i’ll make another post about this to see how close i got to accomplishing all my goals.
there’s an old dam down the road that’s covered in graffiti. it’s got a river on one side and forest on the other, and i think that’s where i’m going to be exploring this summer. i’ve only been there twice so far; the first time i biked and checked out the graffiti, and the second time i went fishing. and my family just bought a bunch of inner tubes, so hopefully i can get a friend to head down there and go tubing with me.
2) read 15 books
i was originally planning on reading 100 books this year, but i’m way behind on that, as i can’t seem to concentrate on anything. reading even 15 books in a few months sounds kind of difficult for me, but i’m still going to try.
3) nail my back handsprings
one of my gymnastics coaches was helping me with back handsprings one day, and she told me i twist to the left when i do them. the same thing happens when i do bridges or back walkovers. but i think that if i can straighten them out, i’ll be able to do them by myself.
i think the theme my church picked for this year’s vacation bible school is “road rally,” or something like that. i’ve already signed up to be a crew leader, hopefully for elementary school kids. izzy tells me that our age group is only allowed to work with preschoolers, but we’ll see.
5) hang out with friends
since my friends all go to different schools, i don’t get to see them that often. in fact, the only friend i’ve hung out with regularly since school started is izzy, who i see 3-5 days a week. i miss my friends and i want to have another summer with them before i go to public school, my schedule gets crazy, and we drift apart.
6) earn 2 ahg badges
(ahg is my scouting group, for those who don’t know.) i’ve almost completed the gardening and plant science badge, and after i get that i think i’ll work on nature & wildlife. doing badge requirements is sort of my go-to boredom buster, and i’m trying to see how many i can earn before i age out of ahg (i currently have about ¼ of all the available badges).
7) go to camp
going to ahg camp with my best friend is always the highlight of my summer. i’m excited to see my camp friends again, swim in the lake, go to the shooting range, and hopefully buy a rainbow knife that i couldn’t get last time because the staff heard me talking about murder with izzy. :)
i’m actually going to two summer camps with her. the other one is a weekend camp at beginning of june, and we’re going to be counselors.
i got my garden planted a few days ago, so i’ve already kind of done this one? i have some herbs, mint, daises, aloe, a succulent, primroses, and some little flowers that i don’t know the names of. i’ve also been growing cacti from seeds, and hopefully i’ll be able to keep them alive.
9) get a tan
i currently have a slight shinguard tan from soccer, and it’s only going to get worse as the season goes on. for anyone who isn’t familiar with what a shinguard tan is, it means my thighs and calves are pale, and just my knee is tan. the only way to fix it is to go outside for something other than pratice/games, which i will unfortunately do if i want to look less like a zebra.
10) go swimming
my family doesn’t actually go swimming that much, but since i just got two new swimsuits, we kind of have to. one is a maroon one-piece with a kind of crisscross thing on the chest, and the other is a black bikini with a bunch of different colored stripes. i did a really bad job explaining them, but they’re very cute.
so that’s my plan for the summer! it’s unlikely that i’ll actually do everything on my list, but i’m still going to try.
let me know in the comments what you’re looking forward to doing over the summer!
the second part of my adventures at summer camp is here!! make sure to read part one here.
« day four | wednesday »
there was an enormous tulip-tree moth at the dining hall the next morning.
there were waterfront games that night. each campsite entered girls into the competitions, such as climbing the iceberg, relays, the rubber ducky race, swamping a canoe, etc. the only one i was in was the canoe swamp. all i had to do was sit in it, squished up against other girls, until the canoe got too heavy and filled with water.
newlon won the aquatic games. :D
for the search, survival, and rescue badge, we had to spend wednesday night sleeping in the woods in makeshift shelters. the one izzy and i made looked a bit like this, but shorter. so after the waterfront games, we changed into dry clothes and headed off to where we had built our shelters earlier that day. sleeping in the woods was a little bit awful and a little bit insanely exciting.
we took a night hike out to indian point, a peninsula in the lake. i laid in the dewy grass and watched the sky and the lights reflecting off the water while our leader talked about stars. then we went back to our shelters and started a tiny fire with flint and steel.
a normal exchange between izzy and apollo that night:
me: you know those baby pictures, where you can see the baby’s feet, and the parents’ feet are on either side?
izzy: i guess.
me, patting a pack of uno cards on the ground between us: this is the baby.
izzy: stop being weird.
me: i’m not being weird!
alex, our leader, in the distance: shut up and go to sleep!
« day five | thursday »
the next morning, we tore down our shelters and went back to the newlon campsite as soon as it was light. most of us went directly to the showers. and that, my friends, was the last shower i had at camp. :)
the evening vespers was that day. we met at a tiny chapel, where the pastor talked about what it means to serve God and others.
so do not fear, for i am with you;
do not be dismayed, for i am your God.
i will strengthen you and help you;
i will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
all who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.
though you search for your enemies, you will not find them.
those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all.
for i am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear;
i will help you.
isaiah 41: 10-13
there was a campfire that night. one of the leaders always saves the ashes and uses them in the fire the next year. he said that there’s over one hundred years of scouting history in the ashes.
they had tons of s’mores supplies for us to use, including giant marshmallows and candy bars. s’mores are delicious.
for entertainment, the campers sang, told jokes, did skits, etc. our friend bella taught us the rooster song, which is probably the greatest camp song i’ve ever heard.
i had a chicken
but no eggs it laid
i had a chicken
but no eggs it laid
until that rooster
came in my yard
and caught my chicken
completely off guard
we’re having omelets
we never used to
until that rooster came in my yard
we’re having omelets
we never used to
until that rooster came in my yard
look it up on youtube so you can hear the rest, it’s such a thought-provoking song.
« day six | friday »
friday was our last full day at camp, and i got a few cute pictures of the friends i made.
lily & bella.
parents were allowed to visit camp that evening for dinner, another fire, and a talent show.
the audition skit.
F.U.N. song on an electric ukulele.
F is for friends who do stuff together
U is for ukuele
N is for nose picking, sharing gum and sand licking
here with my best buddy
every year, this troop rewrites a taylor swift song to be about that week of camp. this year’s was the song trouble.
i’ve got my ticket for the long way ‘round the one with the prettiest of views it’s got mountains, it’s got rivers, it’s got sights to give you shivers but it sure would be prettier with you
cups // anna kendrick
it’s a lie, it’s a lie. ships ahoy, ships ahey, ships a hi-hi-hi!
oh, i’ve sailed the seven seas and i’ve sniffed the salty breeze,
but i never, ever, ever saw a mermaid.
there was supposed to be a meteor shower that night, and a lot of the girls were going to sleep on the plaza and watch the sky. but it started pouring, so we camped out in the dining hall instead.
leftover s’mores supplies were laid out on the one of the tables, and my brilliant friends decided to do the chubby bunny challenge. they were not very good at it.
it was a rather nice night, really. there weren’t many girls on sugar highs this year. the cook made calzones for our midnight snack and we watched the secret life of pets. i wasn’t really paying much attention to the movie. i was too busy drawing a girl named mary and cuddling with my friend brie and listening to her talk in a southern accent. she kept mentioning how tiny and what a great cuddle buddy i am, and she tried to take me home with her the next day.
izzy and i stayed in the dining hall until about 1:30 a.m., when we left to sleep in our own tent.
« day seven | saturday »
and then, of course, the saddest part of camp: the day everyone goes home and you don’t hear from each other until the next year.
someone told us that the trading post was giving out free slushies, so izzy and i stopped there on our way to breakfast. being polite and grammatically correct, i asked the staffer, david, “may i have a cherry slushie?”
and what did he say?
“no, you may not.”
he was laughing until he saw my expression. hurriedly assuring me that he was joking, muttering to himself that he thought i had been going to punch him, david gave me my cherry slushie. :)
i had been eyeing a pocket knife all week. it was one of those pretty rainbow ones. the guy at the trading post refused to sell it to me, because he overheard a conversation with izzy that went something like this:
“ooh, izzy, look at that rainbow knife! you can murder your enemies with sparkles and joy!!”
apparently, he didn’t trust me not to stab someone. fair enough. i eventually convinced my mom to go buy it for me, but it was sold out by that time. maybe next year.
breakfast that day was soggy mini powdered donuts and apples. we exchanged email addresses and social media usernames with our friends, and then izzy and i were on our way back home. i think we both slept most of the way.
i got a new totem necklace from the trading post! last year, i got one with a white tiger charm, and my 2017 animal friend is a spider.
according to the slips of paper that came with the necklaces, the “attributes of TIGER include: passion, strength, stealth, adventurous, spirit, unpredictable, self-control, independence, charisma, valor, intuition, devotion and solidarity.” “SPIDER characteristics include: patience, infinity, creativity, artistic expression, and the web of destiny.”
after returning home from an exhausting week away, most normal people would crash and relax/nap for the rest of the day. but, as we all know, i am not a normal person. so what did i do instead of resting? something slightly crazy and borderline extroverted. my friend’s birthday party was that day, which i didn’t know about until i got home. i had to take a super quick shower and go meet up with my friend, because her family was nearby getting kittens. i spent the rest of the day with her, trying to make fondue for her cake. no rest for the weary. :’)
here’s the promised post about the week i spent at one of my favorite places, summer camp. there are lots of photos, just a warning.
i may have mentioned at some point that i ran a 5k with my friend izzy the day before we left for camp. well, i got blisters on both of my heels from that. so keep in mind that while i was making my way around camp, i was limping and in pain and getting blood all over my socks. :)
« day one | sunday »
this is the second summer i’ve spent at camp. it’s for boy scouts, but they allow my scouting group, ahg, to use it for one week. it’s a few hours away from where i live, and i don’t really remember much of the drive up there. i do know that izzy and i spent a long time trying to tune this ukulele that is absolute trash. it’s red and plastic and sounds horrible.
when we got there, we had to go to the admin building to sign in, where we were given those blue wristbands that are impossible to get off. then we went to find our campsite. we stayed in newlon, just like last year.
i think i’ve complained about the tents before, but i’m going to do it again. they’re made of muddy green canvas with duct tape patches over the tears. they’re not waterproof at all, and if you don’t cover it with a tarp, you will be soaked by the storms. the corners of the tents are open and you have to bring your own rope to tie them closed with. the cots are uncomfortable and saggy and have questionable stains on them. you have to search the tent at night for bugs and squish them before you can go to bed. we found spiders, an egg sack, camel crickets, etc.
we shared a campsite with a troop that we made friends with last year. izzy and i were reunited with our pals beth and alex, which was really exciting. we had a campfire and s’mores that night and hung out with them then.one thing i love about making friends at summer camp is that they haven’t heard any rumors about you that might taint your image, and even if it’s been a year since you’ve seen them, you can pick up right where you left off like no time has passed at all.
our friend emily wasn’t there, and i was a bit disappointed about that. apparently she didn’t want to miss one week of swim practice. hopefully she’ll be there next year.
izzy and i picked a tent that was a few yards away from the rest of newlon. we called it our hermit tent.
once our unpacking was done, izzy and i headed down to the lake for the swim test.
i’ll be honest. i’m not that great of a swimmer. i thought i was going to die when i did it last year. in order to pass, you have to swim 75 yd. of a forward stroke, 25 yd. of elementary backstroke, and then float for awhile. it was much easier this year, though. i’m not sure why.
after the swim test, we headed up to eagle plaza. that’s where they do the morning and dinner flag ceremonies and make announcements before every meal. the announcements were long and dull and it was always hot outside.
the meals were served cafeteria-style. you would find a seat in the dining hall, wait for your table to be dismissed, make a mad dash for the kitchen, and stand in a line as long as the building.
and now i will complain about the food.
the soda machine kept breaking. i actually ate salad while i was there. they served unidentifiable canned fruit for nearly every meal. the juices flooded the plate and made the sandwiches soggy. the only time they made an effort to keep the sandwiches dry was when the parents came for dinner on the last night, and they wrapped them in foil. they gave us chicken biscuits for breakfast one day, and to make it slightly different from the chicken sandwiches we had eaten for lunch the day before, we were given little packets of jelly. JELLY. ON CHICKEN.
after dinner, a silkscreening station was set up, so we could make our own camp t-shirts. i got my mom to do mine for me, so i didn’t have to stand in line with over ninety girls.
need to check the weather at camp, but don’t have internet access? no problem. the overstreet weather rock has got you covered. according to the wise, all-seeing rock, it poured the entire night and my mom marched us up to the dining hall at one in the morning so we wouldn’t get electrocuted in our tent.
izzy read part of a book to me that night: heap house (the iremonger trilogy) // edward carey. it’s one of the most bizarre books i’ve ever read, but i enjoyed it quite a lot.
dark. darker than any coal hole i’ve ever seen, so little light from the clouds above. and cold with it, colder than any winter day when your breath makes thick clouds and the puddles have all iced over and it hurts to touch metal and you’re huddling and shivering though you’ve put so many layers on and you think you’ll never ever get warm again. colder than that. and hopeless, without any hope at all. and the feeling of being dead. of being lost from everyone. buried alive deep down and no one to know it. and the feeling of uselessness, of being broken and alone. in the cold darkness. that’s how i felt.
i’ve been put out, i thought.
i’ve been snuffed out.
i’m not alight any longer.
« day two | monday »
the next morning, we woke up incredibly early, when it was still dark. if you want to shower while at camp, you need to get up and into one of the stalls before the rest of the girls wake up, or else you are out of luck. i remember that last year, you could spend twenty minutes sitting in the 7 a.m. chill while waiting for a stall to open up. it took forever for the campers to get ready because they liked talking to each other while showering.
the newlon side of the bathhouse had freezing water. it was warmer to stand outside in the rain than to get in those showers. that’s why i only showered twice the entire week. i’m good at hygiene.
after breakfast, we went to our first class, fishing. then to shooting sports. then search, survival, and rescue, and then lunch. (i’ll be talking about the badge classes in another post.) we had a few hours of free time after that, which izzy and i spent walking around camp and taking photos.
we found this millipede by the newlon campsite. i think it’s a polydesmida, but i’m going to call it halloween.
there’s a bouldering wall that i’m actually quite good at. the most difficult bits are getting around the corners and this one stupid green fish handhold.
what a lovely face. 10/10.
to the waterfront.
we found this weird tree by the lake. it looks like a candy cane to me.
the dock in lake dillon.
where the boating equipment is stored.
this thing is called the wet willie. it gives you a wedgie.
this is the iceberg. they didn’t have it set up last year. getting your legs out of the water and into a handhold was the hardest part, but after that, it’s a fairly easy climb to the top, where you slide down the other side.
i was really excited to see the jellyfish in the lake, but i didn’t get a chance to canoe or paddle board out to where they are. i guess it didn’t really matter, since no one at camp had seen the jellyfish this year. they must have died.
« day three | tuesday »
the next day was the dutch over cook-off. izzy and i made a brownie cherry cobbler, adapted from this recipe. we practiced making it at home before camp, and it took us over three hours that time, so we made sure to start cooking it early. there were a few dads who had volunteered to cook the desserts for everyone, but my mom insisted that we make it, so it wouldn’t get burned like last time. (last year, we made a disgusting s’mores concoction. it was so hot that it melted a judge’s plastic spoon.)
the cobbler finished cooking just after dinner had started. we grabbed some food at the dining hall before following everyone back to the campsites for the judging. there were seven cobblers, i think: ours; a s’mores thing; chocolate, strawberry, and graham crackers; peach, cinnamon, and blueberries; and a few others that i don’t remember.
a lot of girls mentioned that they liked ours the best, without knowing we had made it. our friends were convinced that we were going to win. they didn’t announce the winner until the campfire on friday night. it was the chocolate strawberry one, which i didn’t actually think was that great. it was too dry, and the strawberry tasted like those weird candies that you never buy but somehow have anyway.
we had a cinematography class that day after dinner. i liked it quite a lot — all that camera stuff is fascinating to me — but everyone else said it was a bit boring. izzy actually fell asleep.
we’ll have to stop there, or else this will get way too long. but the next part is written and ready to go, so that will hopefully be up soon. and if you want to read about my camp experience from last year, click here.
have any of you been to a camp this summer? if you did, i’d love to hear your stories in the comments. :)
i was able to go to the fair with a few of my friends last saturday (k, b, and two who i’ve never talked about before: emily and adam). summer has come to a close, school started yesterday for me, and my best friends and i aren’t going to the same co-op anymore. it felt like a last hurrah. a toast to summer and all-nighters and lost loves. the happy ending to the chapter where we saw each other every friday. it was exciting and sad.
i met up with my friends in the barn with the poultry and rabbits. then we explored the art exhibit. we stood in line for about twenty minutes just to buy tickets for the rides. adam let a young woman cut in front of us because she offered him five dollars.
adam is quite weird. he kept bumping into us and trying to push us in front of oncoming golf carts. he got slapped often that night. i don’t feel bad for him.
we were going to fight each other — brawl right there in the middle of the street. i was pretty confident that i could beat him, but k and emily wouldn’t let us. they’re no fun.
fair food is greasy and too sweet and exactly the kind of thing to enjoy with friends. k and i shared a funnel cake.
zero gravity ride.
round and round like a horse on a carousel, we go. will i ever catch up to love? i could never tell. (carousel // melanie martinez)
the typhoon is my favorite ride at the fair. i didn’t get to go on it this time, though.
i kept trying to sneak pictures of my friends. k and adam got pretty ticked at me. :)
b had to leave before too long, which was a bit disappointing. we missed you, my dear.
the only ride we went on was the ferris wheel. we waited in line for about half an hour. it wasn’t that bad, really. we made fun of my friend’s deadbeat boyfriend who bailed on her, complained about the line a lot, etc. adam had a soda and was threatening to pour it on my head. i dared him to, because i would have been able to slap him for it without getting in trouble. but he was actually decent enough not to dump the soda on me (shocking!!).
cotton candy clouds.
the top of a ferris wheel at twilight is a sweet, romantic place, right? k was hoping to ruin someone’s date, so she started singing “i hate you, i love you, i hate that i want you” at the top of her lungs.
sitting at the top of a ferris wheel makes me feel like i am part of something bigger. lights on the ground, lights in the sky, lights in my friends’ eyes. the people buzzing about on the earth appear as we really are: tiny. there’s a breeze lifting the damp hair off my neck and i can hear music and laughter from below. this must be what it feels like to be infinite.
on a fault line, late night
underneath the stars we came alive
and singing to the sky just felt right
i won’t forget the good times
while the punks started picking fights
with the skater kids under city lights
remember how we laughed till we cried
i won’t forget the good times
i never want to leave this sunset town
but one day the time may come
and i’ll take you at your word
and carry on
i’ll hate the goodbye
but i won’t forget the good times
« post idea from mason‘s rad blog. songs in bold are explicit. »
the reckless and the brave // all time low
ride // twenty one pilots
revolution radio // green day
ocean avenue // yellowcard
l.a. devotee // panic! at the disco
teenage satellites // blink-182
fourth of july // fall out boy
hello, brooklyn // all time low
unbelievable // owl city
kings of the weekend // blink-182
she’s a rebel // green day
young volcanoes // fall out boy
bulletproof heart // my chemical romance
with you around // yellowcard
america’s suitehearts // fall out boy
last young renegade // all time low
even though it’s nearing the end of summer, it feels like the most summery time for me, probably because i get to go to the week-long camp that i’ve been talking about for months. it’s about two hours away and one of my favorite places. we leave sunday morning (i’m writing this on the 5th), and i haven’t actually started packing yet, but it will be fine.
there are so many wonderful things at camp, like the jellyfish in the lake, the tepee on the island, the totem poles, the archery range, etc. it’s a boy scout camp, but they let my scouting group, ahg, use it for one week. we work on badges while we’re there, and the ones i’m doing are fishing, shooting sports, search, survival, and rescue, and possibly cinematography. my friend izzy will be there, too, and she’s taking all the same classes. that’s nice for me, because i would feel extremely out of place without her.
i never shut up about this camp, sorry. and i never even post pictures of it. but we get a lot of free time this year, so i’ll (hopefully) be able to get lots of photos. :)