During my stay with the Headmaster’s family, who was our neighbor when I was young, I was introduced to many things that were kept in the hidden in the recesses of my mind until I became an adult. One was trout fishing and eating fresh fish, caught out of a local lake. Another was platform tents, one of which this family had outside of their warm and dry cabin, which they possessed during our stay due to the Headmaster’s role. We, his daughters and I, stayed in the tent at night, while the Headmaster, his wife, and their younger children (2) stayed in the cabin. Still, we were probably the envy of all the campers. It didn’t hurt to be three pre-teenage girls, in a boy scout camp, either.
Late at night we watched the bears pick through garbage cans at the dump. We’d all pile in their wood-sided station wagon and navigate the Adirondack forest in some of the blackest, black night I’ve ever experienced. We’d sit in the safety of the wagon, waiting to hear or see movement through the thick pines. Then, the headmaster would click on the headlights to reveal one or more bears (I’m assuming they were black bears), pawing through the edible human scraps for a tasty bite! It was fascinating and a bit scary, all at the same time.
We did a lot of bike riding, campfire making, and even had some chores amongst the boys that were there for a week of camping in the great outdoors. Games were played all outside in the freshest of air. And, the oldest neighbor girl developed a crush on one of the camp counselors, so we were endlessly trying to track him down during the day. She was three years older than I, so I had little interest in this type of activity. Still, I remember going to Boy Scout Camp as a fun, one of a kind, experience while growing up.
One of the memories that sticks out the most is going to pick wild blueberries in a bog. Almost forty-five years later, I cannot remember exactly where this bog was, only that we had to drive to reach it. Picking blueberries in a bog is entirely different from picking blueberries at a Blueberry Farm, such as the ones I am familiar with in Wisconsin.
Bogs are low and damp, often with some standing water that seeps silently into one’s sneakers as you pick. The berries are small, but oh, so sweet, and hidden in between leaves of a shrub that might not be higher than mid-calf. Stepping into the bog was always scary for me, Afterall, there might be snakes or other things that one cannot see and therefore, imagination always takes over. What if??? What if??? What if???
Still, the berries made it worth it and I can honestly say that all these years later, I’ve never had such another experience. On the way back to camp, we stopped at a fresh water spring, flowing out of the side of one of the mountains you find in Northern New York, probably a through a crack in the granite. There were other cars at the spring, all with people carrying empty gallon milk jugs to fill from this natural life-giving tap. We’d wait our turn, try not to eat too many blueberries, and fill up our water jugs.
As I said, I’m still fascinated with bogs and the berries that grow within. Perhaps that summer at Massawepie Boy Scout Camp foreshadowed who’d I become….a lover of all things nature, bear or bog.