Campground #4, Bear River - Part 3 (Essay on: Place)

Thursday, February 28, 2013
Hello, again! This will be the last part of this first essay (parts 1 and 2 here and here). I've written a couple other things in a similar vein to this, so if there's any interest in seeing those, I will be posting them in the next few weeks. Again, thanks for the feedback and for the views, and let me know what you think; both of this segment of the essay and of the essay as a whole. Thanks!


        You don’t remember the last time you actually went there - you must have been 17 or 18, so a couple of years ago now. Going out to camp had already been tinged with nostalgia for you, and a year had passed with no trips out to Bear River. When you arrived, you were filled with peace at the roar of the river and the smell of the campfires. As you helped your father set up camp, you were itching with a desire to head out to that secret island and pace the underbrush like you used to. When the time came you bounded out into the woods like you were 9 years old again. But the fallen tree had been eaten away by termites or pine beetles over the last year, and it shook unstably as you began to climb atop it. You stayed propped up on the edge of the tree trunk, weighing the options of whether or not you could cross, trying as hard as you could to avoid the simple fact that the tree simply could not hold your weight anymore.
        You looked around the woods and eventually found a shallow area where you could cross, but as you approached you noticed a beer can and a smattering of spent shotgun shells on the southern face. Out of rote observance of tradition, you paced around the island once before beating your way back to the campground, a good deal quicker than normal.

        The next morning, you and your dad drove up into the hills. He had taken to photography - his early love - as he had grown older, and the two of you wound down old dirt roads and across jagged cliffsides, listening to some podcast about technology and the latest release of Windows and looking for a good place to take a picture or two. The landscape stayed sharply in focus – the high ridges of the road and the distant mountains, lined with RVs and cars – their antennae and satellite dishes reaching skyward like jagged metal fingers.
        Eventually, the car stopped by a remote picnic site and the two of you got out. You can’t remember what the place was called, but it looked like something out of a pastoral poem. Gentle green hills rolled seamlessly into wooded mountains, a tranquil blue creek meandered lazily in the distance, and it was all coated in the golden paint of a swift sunrise. There wasn’t another car or RV in sight – it felt like you and your father were the only sentient life for miles in any direction. The air was crisp, clean-smelling, and just cold enough to be refreshing. You walked back and forth unsteadily on the weathered turtarrier, feeling the cool morning breeze on your face and through your hair as your father took pictures and fiddled with lenses.

        On the return trip, you suddenly began to feel very ill, and your father reassuringly said you could sleep for a few more hours once you got back to camp. As he sat himself down in a lawn chair next to the fire, you curled up in the tent and fell asleep.
        You awoke to a clatter outside, and the sound of thick, slushy drops landing en masse on the roof of the tent. You looked outside only to be greeted by a blast of unexpectedly cold air. Snow was coming down by what felt like gallons at a time, and already an inch or so of the stuff had covered the campground. The other cars were wheeling out, and your father was hastily packing up everything in the back of the car. In a flash, you helped him disassemble the rest of the camp and drove away. You glanced into the passenger side mirror as you left, seeing the aspens disappear in a thick haze of unseasonable snow.
        Your father explained that the storm had struck completely without warning. He offered a small apology as you joined the horde of cars descending down the mountain, saying that the two of you couldn’t stay there, things being what they were. You couldn’t help but agree with him.

1 comment :

  1. I really enjoyed these- and how well you use sense to create moods, and memories. The ending was a little too abrupt for me, though, and I hoped there would be some resolution- some final lesson. But maybe that is the way of life- things just end.


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