By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal
“I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.”
– E. B. White
“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Camping is nature’s way of promoting the hotel business.”
– Dave Barry
I’ve been camping only a few times in my five-plus decades. It’s not that I have anything against camping; it’s just not something the Criss family ever did together.
A neighborhood friend, my sister and I pitched a pup tent once in our backyard when I was about 11. It mattered not one whit that there was barely room for two of us. We were determined to sleep outside.
My parents were sitting outside in the hours before sunset on that long-ago sultry, summer evening. Dad was watching and waiting for the coals in his grill to burn to perfection. Hamburgers would be our night’s fare.
Suddenly our dog barked loudly at some neighborhood noise, causing our cat’s fur to stand at attention. The cat then hissed and swatted at the dog who, in turn, chased the cat up the large oak tree growing in the center of the backyard.
Now, the cat didn’t go all the way up the tree. She climbed the trunk, stopping when she was just beyond the canine’s reach.
And I, ignorant to the truth that I ought not touch a scared cat, reached out to rescue the cat.
Next thing I know, I was bleeding profusely from a puncture wound in my finger made by a feline fang.
It scared me and it hurt. A hole in my finger and the promise of a tetanus shot the following day pretty much killed my craving for camping.
I remained out back until dinner and daylight were depleted, but then I headed for home, which was only a few footsteps away.
A few years later as a teenager, I was asked to go along with my sister’s Girl Scout troop as a chaperone on a weekend camping trip. We were to leave after school on a Friday afternoon.
I can’t remember where the campsite was, but a friend of mine and I took my car, crammed with all manner of camping accoutrements.
A horrible head cold prompted me to take a Contac capsule at noon. Just before we left at 3 for the campground, I took another.
That was a mistake. Always read the directions before taking over-the-counter medications.
I was a zombie for the next 24 hours. Another camping trip gone awry.
By Presidential proclamation, June is Great Outdoors Month. And the National Wildlife Federation is sponsoring the 8th annual Great American Backyard Campout on June 23.
If I can keep away from cats and colds, maybe I’ll give camping another whirl.