Day 15: Camping


Taking part in the Ann Dee Ellis 8-Minute Memoir Writing Challenge. This is Day Fifteen.

There was a rustling outside my tent. It woke me in the pre-dawn dark, and it scared me. I sat up, eyes wide in the dimness, straining to see, my heart pounding in my ears. There were several tents scattered around the campground, and bears weren’t really a big problem in this area of volcanic Northern California.

The shuffling continued, but now accompanied by something familiar. “Dad?” I whispered. “DAD? Is that you?” Shuffle, mumble, and something brushed up against my tent. “Dammit, get back here!” I heard in the familiar, trying to be quiet, voice.

Crawling to the door, I unzipped the fly of my tent. On the ground in the soft dirt of our camp was my dad, decked out in his fishing vest and cap, creel tipped over in the grass, crawling  around frantically, cupping his hands to the ground, and furiously stuffing something in his pockets. “What are you DOING?” I stage-whisper. Tents are thin and I didn’t want to wake everyone else.

“I dropped my crickets!” as he pounced again and shoved something in his pocket. I started to giggle and crawled out and to help him, still in my pajamas. Dozens of crickets were hopping every direction, doing their best to maintain their freedom and evade our hands. Dad and I pounced and grabbed and I think maybe we caught a small handful. We must have looked insane, in the dirt, in the dark.

My dad is fly fisherman. Well, truthfully, my dad is an any-kind-of-fish fisherman. Put him on any body of water, salt, fresh, river, ocean, lake, stream, creek, long pole, fly rod, deep sea rig, didn’t matter. He is happiest fishing. We were camping at a place called Deep Creek, a branch of the Pit River far up in northeastern California, and he was determined to get out early, before the sun and start his day. In his haste, he’d dropped his container of crickets, and they had, of course, jumped for their unexpected freedom.

And there are me and my dad, crawling around camp in the dim dawn, desperately trying to capture his crickets without waking anyone. It’s one of my favorite memories.