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|Tenting Tonight (youngsters:non fiction, 1051 words)|
|Author: Lou Hill||Added: Mar 31 2002||Views/Reads: 2460/1144||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|How I spent my summer vactions for three years.|
TENTING My friend, Wendall Corron, and I spent most of the summer nights of our salad days in a tent. At the time neither one of us knew that they were our salad days. In fact we didn't even know what salad days were. My good friend Mr. Webster defines salad days as "a time of youth and inexperience." Right on target in both cases. We were young, both teenagers although Wendall was two years my senior, and boy, were we inexperienced! Wendall bought the tent. He had gone to work stocking shelves at Ovitt's store in West Enosburg when he first started high school so he had some ready cash. As was usual in our friendship, I was the freeloader. I did supply our bedding thanks to my grandmother who gave us an old mattress (which she called a feather tick,) a quilt and some old feather pillows. We didn't bother with the luxury of sheets or pillowcases. We pitched the tent in a patch of trees we called Preston's Woods. I'm not sure of the actual ownership of the land. It may have been partly or even completely owned by Arlin Ovitt. We never bothered to ask anyone for permission to camp there and no one ever complained about our presence. The little woods covered about an acre. They were in the bend of Tyler Branch in West Enosburg, just across the stream from my grandmother Ada Hill's house and behind Ovitt's store. The Corrons lived across the road from the Prestons so to get to our campsite we just walked up into the woods behind the Preston house. It was just a narrow strip of trees, all pines that grew along the banks of Tyler Branch. The trees were all quite big, probably 50 or 75 years old and quite widely spaced. I doubt that they had been purposely planted as they grew in a random pattern and ran down the steep bank right to the river's edge. There was a fairly level spot at the top of the bank and that was where we chose to pitch the tent. We set it up under the branches of a huge old pine. The ground was covered with a thick carpet of dead pine needles. The ground was pretty soft and I remember getting the tent pegs to stay in place was always a problem. The first few weeks of camping were a series of learning experiences for us. The most important lesson we learned was to never touch the tent walls or roof during a rainstorm. Instant leak. We discovered the location of several roots that required repositioning the tent if we wanted to be able to sleep comfortably. We also found out that the tent pegs had to be driven into the ground at an angle or they would pull out of the soft earth. All of these events seemed to occur in the middle of the night. We soon slipped into an easy routine. We slept in the tent every night except Saturday night. Wendall had to get up early Sunday morning for Mass so his folks insisted that he sleep at home. I never stayed in the tent by myself. We slept through some God-awful storms in that tent during the three summers we spent in the woods. Both of us were heavy sleepers and we would often be surprised to awaken in the morning to discover that there had been a hard rainstorm during the night. Often, after a two or three day rainy spell, we would have to take our bedding out of the tent and lay it on the rocks to dry out. I remember one particularly severe storm that actually woke us up. It was thundering loudly and the sky was lit up with lightning. The wind was blowing very hard and the rain was coming down in sheets. That was one of few times that rain came in through the mesh tent flaps. By morning we were soaked. As soon as the storm let up, we hurried home to let our families know that we were all right. We both knew that they worried about us, out in woods, especially during storms. Of course any thoughts of danger never crossed our minds. Not Click here to read the rest of this story (94 more lines)
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