Lotta cactus out west. Here’s the setting for a story I’m working on. I’d seen it in pictures but needed to fly out there, rent a car, and go see it for myself. I picked up new information that will greatly enhance the final telling.
For Christmas Jeff and Jennifer gave me a steel utility cart, just the thing to cut down on my trips each spring and winter carrying more than three dozen chair cushions, umbrellas, pots and planters, bird baths, concrete pottery, metal sculptures, etc. to and from the patio and garage. Here’s my new beauty.
Ruth Culham says I need a name for my wagon and I got a C- in Wagon Naming for Dummies when I was in school. I would appreciate any suggestions you might have to help me make Ruth happy. After all, she’s a good friend and I don’t want to start 2017 hurting anyone’s feelings.
When Kent Brown published my first book of poetry — SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK — in 1993, he followed up by sending me a box of note cards with Betsy Lewin’s art on the cover as well as a cooking apron also decorated with her work.
I sent the last of the cards long ago but after all these twenty-three years I remain the proud owner of the apron and wear it from time to time when I’m grilling.
Over the holidays our son Jeff Harrison was cooking and needed an apron to protect his sweater. Out came the treasured apron and my camera. So here we have the second generation preserving good memories made possible by an old friend and one of the best publishers I’ve had the pleasure of working with.
Jeff and I began camping together when he was a boy in Indian Guides. He was Little Gray Wolf and I was Straight Arrow. I can’t remember who suggested that name. I don’t recall arguing about it though. Later on we camped on Swan Creek near Forsyth, Missouri. Our equipment included a butterfly net, fishing tackle and bait, water skis, a bass boat, pup tents, and sleeping bags. We slept on the bank of the beautiful stream by night and went exploring for possibilities by day. I taught him how to water ski there. I also showed him how to arrange stones in a circle to make a fire pit, carefully build a fire, drop foil-wrapped potatoes onto the coals, and set steaks on the grill. I also taught him how baking potatoes that way burned them to little bitty black coal-like lumps and turned the steaks to toast. Real he-men don’t complain. We lived on Smores and carried on.
They say you can’t go home again but Jeff and I still love to camp and enjoy nature together. This time we settled on the Branson area and Table Rock Lake. There were a few changes that we reluctantly accepted. After all, time does march on. The bass boat was now a pontoon boat but it got us there. Jeff was so cute playing with the controls. And he still got such a kick out of splashing around in the water. The lake temperature was 70 degrees but the good news was that his beer didn’t cool off. Lots of gorgeous scenery, just like in the old days. While I admit we were not packing skis or a net or fishing gear, we enjoyed the rugged bluffs in our rugged man style. We saw plenty of dangerous animals out in the wild. This groundhog was actually quite frightening except that we were looking down from fifteen feet. And just like in the old days we saw crows, eagles, and vultures. Really, there were only two significant changes from Camp Little Hatchet 1 to Camp Little Hatchet 2. For one thing, I’ve learned how to provide tastier food. And for another, they make better tents these days so why not take advantage of progress!