First Week of Summer Camp

(This was written yesterday, Wednesday, but not posted until today, Thursday, because I don’t have internet access at “home.”)

Left home on Sunday for three weeks of teaching at an arts camp in northern Michigan.

Sunday was a very hot day, and since we were moving all of our stuff up in two small Toyota cars, had to make discretionary decisions regarding what to bring, such as: decent pots and pans, and bedding, or an air conditioner. Being the foodies that we are, and the fact that we don’t really enjoy sleeping on bare mattresses (not that we know this for a fact, as we never have done so, it is not hard to imagine the unpleasantness), we left the air conditioner at home.

I am now seriously questioning that decision, as this week coincides with one of the hottest weeks on record, with today’s temperatures very near 100˚ and humidity around 74%.  I like to say, on days like these, that there’s no air in the air. Luckily I got to spend much of my day in air-conditioned buildings, but I’m still exhausted; every venture outside feels like a kick in the chest. How do people in equatorial climates and without air conditioning actually get anything done?  (Seriously, how? This is not a rhetorical question, I really want to know.)

Yesterday was Day One of camp, a.k.a “Can You Find the Missing Camper? Day” I put a lot of miles on my tired, hot, socked* feet trying to track down poor hapless early adolescents. I was 2 for 3. (Be reassured, the 3rd one was never here, which would have been good to know yesterday, when they were telling us that he was, but nobody knew where. )


A friend and colleague rescued a foreign girl, lost, near tears, and escorted her around with a gentle hand on her shoulder.

Another young girl – 12? 13? carried a bass down the sidewalk that was at least a foot taller than she was. Why would anyone play an instrument bigger than he or she was? Oh, hmmm, right.

We were awakened the other night by an approaching storm, and then laid in bed while we experienced what felt like the apocalypse. I have never seen that much lightning. Apparently there are 1,000 storms over the planet earth at any given moment, but Saturn has only had 6 in recordable history, the last of which was last week, and all of which have encompassed the entire planet. Saturn is at least 9 times the size of the earth. That’s a lot of lightning.

This afternoon I put Only Daughter in the bathtub with water as cool as we could get it from the tap (not that cool, unfortunately), and two trays of ice cubes. I told her I was making a H_________ cocktail; needing only either a maraschino cherry or an olive.

Turned pages for a friend’s performance tonight, and then we snuck backstage to sit behind the curtain, with our backs to the air-conditioning vent, listening to the rest of the concert. The stage lights made a beautiful scalloped shadow of the curtain hem along the floor, and listening to performers we couldn’t see contributed to actually listening, rather than listening while actually mostly watching. There was a premiere of a piece by a composer who teaches here in the summer. One of the few contemporary composers who doesn’t seem to be writing absolute crap, but music with melody, and color, and actual development of musical ideas. It was evocative, lovely.

Then this soprano, this wonderful soprano.

Please allow me to digress, briefly.

One of the requirements of this particular camp, as of many, is that faculty and students wear a uniform. One of the requirements of our uniform is that our shirts be tucked in. I don’t tuck in my shirt. I’d like to lose 10 lbs., maybe 15, and I don’t tuck in my shirt. I don’t tuck in my shirt at home, and I’m not going to tuck it in here. I don’t like my little tummy to show, and that’s that.

This soprano is at least 50 lbs overweight, probably more. She is beautiful, and blond, and can sing like no one I’ve ever heard before, and she stood on stage with her shirt tucked in, surrounded by 8 “violincelli,” and sang beautiful Spanish music in a beautifully Spanish way. (If you don’t know what that means, it means she flirted shamelessly at the appropriate times, and had a helluva good time doing it.)

I want to be her when I grow up.

Including not caring that I have a tummy, caring so little that I tuck in my shirt when I’m supposed to, and flirt shamelessly with 300 people at once, tossing my head and sending my beautiful voice ringing to the rafters. And having a helluva good time doing it.

Yeah, I definitely want to be her when I grow up.

Oh, and it’s so hot that I’ve made yogurt by heating a quart of milk, letting it cool, adding 2 tablespoons of yogurt, and LETTING IT SIT ON MY COUNTER. This is cool as far as science experiments go. Nevertheless, I still haven’t decided if I will actually eat it.

And it’s so hot that Only Daughter and I were recently commenting on the fact that things really seemed to have cooled down, and when I checked the temperature on my iPhone it was 90˚. I’m not kidding; this was cooler. And it was 9:40 p.m.

Oh, and I have poison ivy. On both arms. The rash doesn’t like the heat. I look like I have impetigo. Or leprosy. Or something really disgusting and really contagious. As I was passing chamber music parts around to my two groups today I noticed some of the students recoiling from my arm as it passed in their vicinity. This was not mentioned in the Blood-Borne-Pathogens movie nor in the How to Cough/Sneeze Properly video.  A colleague sat next to me at a faculty meeting yesterday and pretended to scratch his arms. But he played beautifully tonight, so I’ve decided not to steal a spark plug out of his car or replace the water in his ice cube trays with vodka. I am, however, open to less destructive but equally entertaining suggestions which may or may not include planting poison ivy around his cabin. (I wouldn’t do that, he has innocent children to be spared, although his youngest son threw dirt at me at lunch.) And the rash has spread to my left, well, hmmm, ribcage area. This is an awkward place to scratch. And anyone who tells you that poison ivy doesn’t “spread,” that you can only get it from the plants is LYING TO YOUR FACE AND DESERVES TO BE SLAPPED. No poison ivy plants touched my left, umm, ribcage, and yet, there it is.

Crap. I’ve gone over 600 words again. Sorry.

*Socks are part of the uniform requirement. Wearing socks in the summer offends me on every level. And yet.

1 Response to “First Week of Summer Camp”

  1. July 22, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Yuck, poison ivy. Who would tell you it doesn’t spread? My brother and sister got poison ivy every year when I was a kid (I didn’t, because I never slogged through the woods) and it spreads like a motherf*cker. If you touch yourself anywhere after touching the poison ivy part, it spreads. If other people touch your poison ivy, they’ll get it, too. That may be why they’re recoiling from you.

    Get some calamine lotion and spread it all over the p.i. and DON’T SCRATCH. Yes, it’s hard, but the more you scratch, the more you’ll spread it around. Just wait until it spreads to the . . . . nether regions. You DON’T want it there, believe me. Calamine lotion. No scratching. Just sayin’.

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