by Lisa

The gathering goes on.  We have a month and ten days until we’re left on our own, with just what we think we need and a Jeep named The Tank. We have

  • two tents
  • a screen house
  • a cot
  • two sleeping bags
  • pillows
  • a rug
  • a little wood stove
  • a flame diffuser
  • an axe
  • band-aids
  • pots
  • pans
  • burn cream
  • sunscreen
  • lovely silver-plate utensils, because we need beautiful things even if we are sleeping in tents
  • a silver set for tea, again because of that beauty issue
  • wooden platters and bowls, shaped like leaves, differently beautiful but still lovely
  • cups
  • solar lanterns
  • candle lanterns
  • a real candlestick for the table
  • rocks
  • soap
  • clothesline
  • a dish rack
  • assorted musical instruments
  • a cutting board
  • a kettle
  • real blankets and sheets
  • buckets
  • truly sharp knives
  • a table
  • tablecloths
  • real chairs and camp chairs
  • hope and faith
  • parasols
  • a typewriter
  • watercolors
  • paper
  • pastels
  • toilet paper
  • an incense bowl

We need

  • a camp banner and personal pennants
  • altar goods
  • a chuck box
  • dresses for the ball
  • more sunscreen
  • a cooler
  • a drum
  • a map
  • wide-brimmed hats
  • duct tape
  • a pot of mint
  • a tea strainer

We could do without everything but the tent, blankets, the stove, the axe, a couple of pots, two spoons, and a gallon of sunscreen.  That’s not what the trip is all about. We intend to live well.

Why bring only one tent when we already own two alike, in case sleeping alone sounds nice, or one might be necessary for a space to lounge if the weather turns wet and windy?  Why not carry along those two flat-folding wooden chairs to use at the table?  Maybe two more will turn up, and we can have guests to dinner. Maybe we will have enough guests to dinner that they have to sit one the ground, and for that, we will have a rug.  Gloriously garnet-toned pillows with golden fringe will make the rug more comfortable. Come to think of it, we’ll need the huge platter, just in case a couscous tagine sort of thing happens at our camp.

A week without a trip to the supermarket requires careful planning, but I feel ready for the challenge.  Carrots and potatoes and onions keep well without refrigeration. Hard cheese and unsliced bacon and the makings of all manner of breads can stay safe in a shaded box, not to mention noodles and grains and coffee and tea. I should keep my radar set to “food dehydrator” between now and takeoff, just like it’s been set to “big sturdy box” to transform into a portable kitchen.  There’s one down the street at the flea market, along with an army cot that may or may not be intact.


Army cot is gone, and so is the Big Sturdy Box.  I did score a flame diffuser for the amazing little wood stove (added to the list above), and a set of Korean stainless steel bowls that will make fine pots (not on the list yet).  They have lids, and I already have a pot lifter.  Many camp cookware sets I’ve scoped out are just stainless pans with no handles and a sturdy one-size-suits-all lifter, so these bowls are a serious treasure.  They have lids, too, for leftover management.  A week without a grocery store requires wasting nothing.  Of course, food vendors will be scattered around the farm, but I like to cook.

Planning this camping trip keeps my head in a happy place.  The things gathered will serve me  and mine for many trips, years of trips.  The people I love need to love the low-budget high-style form of travel that I adore. That I would bother to acquire a silver service exclusively for using in the great outdoors might hint at my enthusiasm.  We will sleep in tents, and we will do so with grace and a good sense of humor, even if it rains for a week.

My mother will never sleep in a tent, but she and two daughters and I will do a week in a cabin at a campground adjacent to a theme park.  For Mom, that is a big deal.  For me, it’s a bigger deal.  The girls know how we roll, but my mother has yet to see us deck out a home away. We hang our unique-but-similar string of freak flags at the doorway, whether at home or under a thin dome of nylon.  It just can’t be helped, and anyway, we wouldn’t want to.

If you are at a campground this summer, and stumble upon two purple tents and a screen house, perhaps sheltering a nicely set table for four, leave a note.  We are off dancing somewhere, or sleeping in the sun, or digging for shells and petoskies on the beach.  We’ll be back soon, and there will be tea made of flowers that we picked along the way.