It’s 9:30 p.m. I am writing on a laptop in the middle of my backyard, sitting beside a flickering campfire. I asked my wife to go camping with me tonight, but she told me that she would rather eat a live chicken than go camping.
Those were her exact words.
I can’t explain what made me go camping in my own yard. Maybe it’s that we’ve been stuck at home for 100-some days.
Maybe it’s because a friend of mine died last week, still in his mid-forties, from heart trouble. Maybe I’m starting to realize that my own funeral isn’t exactly getting further away.
Camping is in my blood. I own a lot of camping gear that I’ve gathered over the years, but I haven’t gone camping in ages because I haven’t had time. I’ve been busy working. But now that the world has come to a halt with the novel coronavirus, I dusted off my gear.
When I was growing up we went camping because it was cheap. And because my father was under the perpetual
idea that we were still living through the Great Depression.
He grew up with parents who survived the Depression. And I think they missed the memo about it ending. After all, there were no government officials knocking on doors to say, “Good afternoon, folks, Depression’s over!”
So my father kept right on pinching pennies and using Depression-era phrases his parents used. Phrases I was too young to understand, like, “Eat your supper, there are people in China who would give anything to eat your supper.”
The first time he ever said this I just looked at my plate and marveled. I had no idea meatloaf was so popular in China.
We camped multiple times per year, sometimes multiple times per week. Beer was involved.
My father used to arrange my Little League camping trips on Mister Tolbertson’s nearby farm. We would hike for…