Pancakes and Poison Ivy

The start of school marks the non-meteorological end of summer so I thought I’d share one of my fondest camping stories from my childhood. Growing up in the sixties, our family vacations consisted of road trips, where “making good time” seemed to be the objective, or week-long camping trips. In my younger days, we mostly camped in North Carolina at Kerr Lake. Both of my parents grew up in neighboring counties in North Carolina so camping at the lake was like being in their own backyard.

Kerr Lake
                               Kerr Lake

Often we would try to get the same campsite from year to year. Anyone who has gone camping knows that campers are like mini-homesteaders. Once we get to our site, we set up all kinds of buildings and clear areas for recreation.

This story takes place at one of the more unique sites we camped. The flat “driveway” near the road held the car and small camp trailer. Down a path was a lower level where the picnic table was located. Farther down a path, we reached the lake. All around these paths were tall trees and an under growth of shrubs, poison ivy, and various other deadly things.

Our campsite
                            Our campsite

This particular trip included my parents, my sister, me, my aunt, uncle, grandmother, and three cousins. One morning my mother decided to make pancakes for breakfast. Now my mother was not an outdoorsy person and she really didn’t like to cook. When I look back now, I wonder how she managed it all. So she went in the small trailer to make pancakes. We couldn’t eat them as she made them. We had to wait until she had made the entire batch and then the whole group would eat together. For us kids, this was absolute torture. It was already late in the morning and now we were looking at another hour of strictly enforced “no swimming” time after breakfast.

We could play by the lake but not even put a toe in!
We could play beside the lake but not even put a   toe in the water.

As we sat anxiously waiting with knife and fork in hand, my mother finally emerged from the trailer with a platter of the golden pancakes. I think we might have actually heard angels sing when she headed toward us. As she walked down the path to the picnic table, her foot caught on a root crossing the path. (Enter the forces of physics!) In trying to catch her balance, the contents of entire tray of pancakes when flying through the air. I swear, I think time slowed down because the pancakes sailed through the air like Frisbees in slow motion. Imagine the dismay on the faces of five children eager to go swimming. All we could think about was another hour of cooking followed by another hour of waiting! I can only imagine the dismay my mother experienced thinking she would have to start cooking all over again. Silently, everyone at the table got up and started picking up pancakes. We dusted them off, piled them on our plates, and ate them. No one said a word about dirt, cleanliness, or poison ivy. And I don’t recall my mother making pancakes for a long time after.

Finally!  Time to swim!
                     Finally! Time to swim!

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