16 February 2008

Into the Woods

It is 4:30 in the morning, and as I have on this weekend for 25 years, I am waiting for my ride to pick me up for our annual trek to western Maryland for "the Campout." For the past twenty years, my camping partner has been my eldest son, Michael, my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. It is hard to believe that this is the quarter-century mark.

We were young men, then, two brothers, Duke and Barry--school teachers-- and a Navy officer, Bill, who had become my friend as we were Scoutmasters together. Later we brought our sons along. Now that they are the age we were when we statrted this adventure. They do most of the planning and logistics now and that's OK.

Over the years, we have endured illness, the vagaries of raising teenagers and seeing them develop into fine young men and women, abandonment, divorce and re-marriage, and the simple joy of friendship with men you can trust. I have often said that if I were in the direst of straits, there is no man other than Michael who I would want at my back. (His reply? "Well thanks a lot for inviting me into that mess!)

So, we will camp on the flat little spot near Tom's Run, pitch our tents in the accustomed spaces, build our usual huge fire, cook, shoot up an inordinate amount of many calibers of ammunition from rifles and pistols old and new--my M-1891 Mossin-Nagant, Mike's M-1, several SKS's, and whatever new toys that show up, and tell the old stories that get better each year.

In God's magnificent wilderness, we will travel back to a time when we were young and unstoppable and will watch our sons as they prepare to take our places with their sons.


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