hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


December 6, 2012

Closing summer camp a rueful chore

Next to opening a summer camp, the most undesirable task would be closing it down for the winter.

Everything else in between is heaven’s paradise: A lake in which to frolic, animals and birds to remind me of God’s eclectic world, grandchildren galore enjoying the amenities with my own children, sunsets on the deck, a barbeque sizzle and absolute peace and quiet – when the kids are gone.

Okay, a fireworks barrage dices the solitude every July 4th and the mosquitoes are apt to get under your skin. Sometimes, you get an unwanted guest intruding upon your privacy, and there are the usual maintenance tasks that require attention.

But on the whole, the pluses outweigh the minuses. One of those liabilities is calling it quits for another season. I try putting it off for as long as Mother Nature and Mother Nancy will allow. The moment we get a late-fall chill, a desperate voice rings out.

“Time to pack our belongings and move back home,” says my wife, bundled in her favorite afghan. “Think I’ve had enough of this place. It’s getting rather cold around here.”

“Naw, it’s just your imagination,” I’ll counter. “Think summer. Think sun.”

“It’s r-ain-y an-nd co-ld out there,” she stammers. “Let’s giv-ve it up.”

Thus begins the great meltdown. Where to begin? In come the deck and yard furnishings, but not before they get a good wipe-down. The acorns need attention, not to mention the leaves that have gathered. For every wheelbarrow you mount, two other loads are waiting their turn.

Into the woods they go, only to blow back out.

Let’s see. Clean out the wood stove. Secure the windows. Empty out the refrigerator and shelves. Pull in the boats and the dock. But first, you must secure a helping hand. Try as you might, nobody’s free. Then you realize why. Late October can be a brutal month for a swim.

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