Fecklet has gone back to school and I’m no longer on holiday. First up, I have to prepare for the Festival of Writing in York this coming weekend. I’m giving two workshops, one on character and one on pacing, and I’m part of a panel discussion about women’s fiction, and I’m doing some book doctor sessions with writers. All of which requires more time and thought than just about anything I’ve done for the past three weeks up at camp.
Before I get back to work, here are three highlights of my holiday up at Roxbury Pond:
Caterpillars and grasshoppers. They were everywhere. The grasshoppers were fun, and Fecklet and I spent a lot of time running after them and catching them, but the caterpillars were astounding. There was an enormous one, about the size of my little finger and the colour of a dead leaf, that hung for days upside down in the blueberry bushes, systematically eating its way through. We checked on it every day. I would not have been surprised if one day, it had been smoking a hookah.
There were these fuzzy caterpillars with black tufted heads and tails and either brown or bright yellow in the middle, and they were FAST. I mean, for a caterpillar, they could really move. I saw one out of the corner of my eye once and thought it was a mouse darting across the road. We spent many hours watching them bolt from one plant to another, or, in one case, climb, upside-down, all the way up to the roof of the camp. There were millions of white and black ones, too, which Fecklet and his cousin Rishi collected in a jar and fed fresh leaves every day. (It’s amazing how much poop five caterpillars can create in 24 hours.)
Fish. Why is it, that when people are in proximity with a large-ish body of water, they feel an irresistible urge to start yanking fish from it? Rock God caught his first fish (an 8″ white perch), my dad caught the biggest fish he’d snagged in years (a 20″ bass), my nephews caught fish. (I didn’t catch fish; last year I caught a yellow perch which died on my line, with a worm that I yanked from the ground with my own hands, and I felt so guilty that I have not touched a pole since.) We fried the fish and ate them, despite the fact that we already had a refrigerator full of food. They weren’t bad, and the boys felt Very Manly.
Cribbage. Every Wednesday evening, it’s Cribbage Night at the Ellis Pond Variety Store, which is really at Roxbury Pond, because Roxbury Pond is also called Ellis Pond, and also sometimes Silver Lake. Anyway, whatever it’s called, this is what the store looks like, it sells beer, pizza, bait and amusingly-sloganed t-shirts, and everyone goes up there on Wednesdays and plays cribbage.
This year we also taught my teenage cousin Olivia and my 8-year-old nephew how to play cribbage, and they took to it immediately. My nephew even BEAT ME by one peg! I still haven’t quite got over the trauma.
I learned how to play cribbage as a girl up at camp and it’s as much part of Roxbury Pond life as swimming and red hot dogs on the grill. My brother is a mean cribbage player, having learned at the hands of Roxbury Pond’s Master of Cribbage, a legendary man (now, sadly passed) called Hornet Wagnis. Fecklet tried to learn to play, but he can’t quite work out all the fifteens yet. Still, he liked moving the pegs and counting the cards. We played on a board that my grandfather had made for my father, his son-in-law, and my mom and dad gave me a handmade board so that I can play at home, too.
What were the three best things of your summer?