Posted on Jul 31, 2016 in All Blog Posts, Seasons, Sports

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

Henry James

It’s time to fire up the grill, swing at the shuttlecock, laze in the hammock, and commune with nature.  Grown men finally have a valid excuse to play with fire, as they showcase their skills with spatulas and shish kebobs.  From Top Chef to Hell’s Kitchen, inspired fledglings step up to the plate (pun intended) to flex their culinary muscles.

This jaunty juggler skillfully shuffles the entire pantry in a dashing display of showman ship. Great fun!



One wonders who endures the tougher grilling  – the chef or the meat.  It seems everyone has a personal tip, technique, or secret ploy when it comes to the barbecue.  Add rain, flies, gnats, sputtering coals, depleted sauces, and simultaneous requests for rare to well done, and it’s enough to make a weekend warrior bow to the queen of the kitchen.


But where else can men, regardless of age or size, command control at the bonfire?   These young hopefuls take their turn at searing and scorching.  Again, I’m always amazed to see the breadth of subject matter on children’s hankies.

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This buckaroo shows off his skillet skills with flapjacks while the camping consortium opposite indulges in a bit of skinny dipping in the river. Whooeee!

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Ah camping, now we’ve bridged beyond the bounds of the backyard cookout.  For generations, boy and girl scouts have communed with nature, learning valuable survival skills while making friends and having fun.


“Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson


 “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature.  It will never fail you.”

Frank Lloyd Wright

Long before super highways veined the landscape and motels freckled every crossroad, folks took to the open road to refresh, restore, rejuvenate.



Although the style of the jalopy indicates this  hankie is from the 1930’s-40’s, the camping apparatus is as elaborate as any found today, complete with an awning at every window.  Note the gentlemean is wearing a suit and hat and the lady is in a dress. camping_image020


Smokey the Bear hands out lollipops as he reminds us to camp responsibly and prevent forest fires. Who knew bears slept in tents?


A wandering cub, complete with nightcap, startles an enterprising bunny who has looted a lollipop. Meanwhile Mama bear scurries to corral her wayward cubs.camping_image024 camping_image026


Weekend warriors suffer the indignities of tenderfoots – setting themselves on fire, wandering onto private property, encountering snakes, and having their children run amok. Dead center we spy mom and dad hoping to escape to a nearby hotel.


“Camping is nature’s way of promoting the motel business.”

Dave Barry

Log off. Shut Down.  Go outside.

In July 2013, the New York Times featured an article about Camp Grounded, an adult summer camp north of San Francisco.  Activities were run by Oakland firm Digital Detox. Rules included “no phones, computers, tablets or watches, work talk, discussion of people’s ages or use of real names.” Say what? Well I guess if your name is Zuckerberg, it’s best to travel incognito. However, there’s going cold turkey, and there’s falling off the edge… Even the meals were vegan and gluten-free. Jeesh. If you’re going to take away a guy’s iphone, at least give the poor sap a cheeseburger.  Men and women were separated (?) and housed in lean-tos that were built by Boy Scouts decades ago. But the experience proved transformative for many, with attendees taking time to meditate and get more deeply in touch with themselves.  One camper proclaimed “One night, I found myself lying on my back, gazing up at the night sky.  The only other times I’d seen the constellations so clearly was when I glanced up at the ceiling in Grand Central Station.”  Yikes….


(photo Mark Unrau 2009)

“I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”

Sarah Williams.

“A great many people, and more all the time, live their entire lives without ever once sleeping out under the stars.”

Alan S. Kesselheim, Let Them Paddle: Coming of Age on the Water

If you think tech addiction isn’t serious, the article mentions several camps, including one which focuses on young men so addicted to the computer their online gaming habits caused them to fail either high school or college.  Time to replace Instagram and tweeting with s’mores and skinny dipping.  Infinitely more fun.


Where It All Began

Thanks to John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, the U. S Congress and others, we can sleep under the stars in dozens of magnificent parks around the globe. The National Park system began with the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872, and now includes more than 84 million acres in 49 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan and the Virgin Islands.

Here’s a fun map of Yellowstone where nothing is to scale, where rabbits are larger than bears, and men are twice the size of burrows, but it’s great fun nonetheless.


“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more.”

John Burroughs



“We need the tonic of wilderness…we can never have enough of nature.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

“The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been.

Albert Einstein

A Lost Treasure – The Handkerchief Pool

According to Yellowstone National Park historians, one hundred years ago one of the most famous attractions in the park was a small hot spring named Handkerchief Pool.  According to legend, its powers were serendipitously discovered one day when a gentleman accidentally dropped his handkerchief into the pool.  It was immediately sucked into the swirling, steaming vortex, never to be seen again. Or so people thought.  Bystanders were still at the pool when several minutes later the hankie resurfaced, snowy white and freshly laundered!  Visitors began dropping their hankies into the pool to experience the magic.  Sadly, other objects were eventually thrown into the hot spring including coins, rocks, bottles and even a horseshoe.  The system became clogged and eventually the spring no longer functioned.   Today, the only remaining vestige of this captivating natural phenomenon are vintage photos. Those seen here are courtesy of Yellowstone National Park.


camping_image036 A trio wash their hankies in 1923camping_image038


President Warren Harding visiting Handkerchief Pool in 1927.



Whether you only have time for a picnic, or you’re able to tune out for a weekend or more to hike, bike, or simply snooze by the seashore, here’s hoping your sojourn includes some time for stargazing and quiet contemplation before the summer’s end – regardless of which road you choose.



The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, 1920

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


  1. 9-8-2014


  2. 9-8-2014

    Well here I am in Montana and after reading your tribute to the great outdoors – dashed out into the inky night – just to gander once more at the beautiful heavens – you made me do it Annie.
    Love Linda

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