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Tenting Tonight (youngsters:non fiction, 1051 words)
Author: Lou HillAdded: Mar 31 2002Views/Reads: 2690/1293Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
How I spent my summer vactions for three years.


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 

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 

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 

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 

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