Late Summer Endings

August 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

The majority of my childhood summer memories were made in the swimming pool or on the campsite. Camping was the form family vacation took, more often than not, and one of the few activities that could be counted on to regularly bring us all together. It generally involved flying up to Victoria, British Columbia, a brief stopover at my grandparents’ house, and then us all piling in the mini-van to drive north on the island. I remember the small opening in the bushes, where we stumbled down into the cold, clear lake on Saltspring Island. The sandy stretch by the Strathcona Park Lodge where I roasted — and ate — marshmallow after marshmallow, back when the concept on healthy eating scarcely even crossed my mind, if at all. That one ill-fated weeklong trip, when it poured every day. My cousin’s dogs that accompanied us everywhere, and the journals that I filled every day with sketches of animals I had seen at the nearby wildlife center.

Nowadays, everyone has gotten a bit older, and campsites have sprung from $15/night to $50/night and available ones hard to come by, at that. Our camping trips have shrunk to overnight sagas, involving just me, my little brother, and my parents. Put up the tents, light a fire, make some quesadillas, spend an hour roasting two cobs of corn, roast a couple of marshmallows until they’re deep blistering brown, complain about the cold in the middle of a California summer, enjoy a few fitful hours of sleep, and then pile everything back into the car and drive back to the city, curl up in my own sheets, and really sleep. This time around, staying just outside of Point Reyes Station, our neighbor’s car alarm went off around 9 p.m., half a dozen 8-year-olds ran around the site on our other side, yelling about their missing water bottles and the poison ivy in the woods, where, supposedly a fox likes to search for black raspberries in the middle of the night.

Despite this, the hardest affront to my camping nostalgia came out of a box — a box of Honey Maid graham crackers to be specific. They were dry, dusty, nothing like the graham crackers I remember, from even just a year ago. Honey Maid, what happened? Awhile back, I made a batch of homemade graham crackers, that were a bit more butter cookie than I would have liked. We took the batch camping last summer and while the graham crackers were a solid base for s’mores, we found that they were better enjoyed as a breakfast biscuit the next morning, with coffee out of a plastic mug. I hadn’t thought about making graham crackers since. But now, I’d say it’s back to square one. Calling all graham cracker recipes.

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