Saturday, March 5, 2011

Still trying to remember me ....

OK, so I left off at about age 12.  I don't even know if the aging process I'm depicting is right, but I think it's close enough.

What I remember from my 12th year is the death of my grandmother - which I covered in my January 22nd "Big Girls Don't Cry" post, so I don't need to go through that again. 

Other than that, from 10 to 14 or so, nothing much stands out except Mudgekeewis.  Wonderful Mucgekeewis.  A camp somewhere in Maine, on a huge lake, where I was sent for several summers in a row for a two-month period. 

My mother spent a good deal of effort on finding ways and places to get me out of the way, but I have to hand it to her that she generally found great places, and didn't spare the expense.

I adored camp.  I adored the counselors, the campers, the activities.  Somewhere around 10 I began packing on the pounds and I always came home from camp having lost a substantial amount of weight.  I rode, swam, played tennis, climbed Mt. Washington (honestly).  Three summers in a row we all scaled the highest peak in the Northeastern United States. 

It was a three-day trip - half way up the first day to a place where we stopped to spend the night.  Up the next morning to get to the summit and then half way back down again to spend the night before descending the next morning and then getting driven back to camp.

I only have clear recollections of one climb.  We always had two or three guides with us and this particular climb there was one that I was totally enamored with.  He took pity on me and let me climb with him whenever possible, and I remember he carried my backpack the morning we climbed to the top because I was having enough trouble getting just me up the mountain.

We also climbed Mt. Baldface (Mr. Baldy to us).  This was a great event.  Half the camp walked to the base of Baldy and the other half rode a horse-drawn wagon.  Going home those who walked rode and those who rode walked.  I don't recall for sure, but I don't think Baldy was an overnight climb.  (I just googled it and can't tell if it could have been done up and down in a day - but I don't recall spending a night on Baldy.)

Other great things at Mudjie were canoe trips.  We would head out with about 6 canoes, three to a canoe, one in front, one in the back and one in the center, comfortably resting on all the gear.  Everybody would change up so that equal just sitting time was matched by work time, maneuvering the canoe.  These trips consisted of two night of camping and each canoe trip had to result in a trip song created around the campfires and performed for everyone at dinner the day we returned to camp.  I recall one line of one of those songs (sung to the tune of Oklahoma) ..

"And when we say jay*, we're talking to Carlene**
Her answer's toughie bean,
Stay in the middle of the river,
And don't go astray."

*This refers to the jay stroke which is used to keep a canoe going straight, with which I had great difficulty.

"*In the song my last name was used which rhymes with "bean."  For this post I've changed it to "Carlene."

Then there was the summer I was 14 (I think - at least that's how the chronology of this blog seems to indicate) I was sent to the most wonderful place in the world.  I think it was a place for "troubled teens" but that's not how I remember it.

It was high in the Colorado mountains.  I don't recall how many kids there were, but I don't think there were more than 20.  I only vaguely remember one or two.

What I remember was my Morgan.  The most beautiful horse (a Morgan, of course).  This was run as a ranch.  There were lots of horse, but I latched on to Morgan the very fist day.  The camp had a great deal of land and each night the horses were set loose to roam.  Anyone wanting to ride needed to get a bridle and walk (sometimes for not too long, sometimes for miles) to find the horse she wanted, bring it back to the corral, put on all the tack .... and then we were free to ride until lunch and then all afternoon after lunch.  Except for some time spent in the pool (I loved to swim as much as I loved horses), I was on Morgan's back.

She had been trained to rear (a really safe trick to sit to even though it looks exciting and sort of dangerous).  I would ride her up to the lower mountains and on a hilll I would put her into a rear and transport myself into the Lone Ranger and Morgan into Silver.

The other high spot of that summer was being part of the Little Britches Rodeo which was part of Cheyenne, Wyoming's Frontier Days.  I barrel raced!  And to this day I remember that the name of the Cowboy of the Year was Jim Shoulders.  And Casey Tibbs was also named something special.  Amazing what I can remember and what I can't.

Other than Morgan and the Rodeo and the Wrangler at the ranch (on whom I had an enormous crush), I recall very little about my Colorado summer.  But I do know it was glorious (and once again I dropped quite a bit of weight).  Funny how no adult in my life ever put two and two together to realize that when I was happy (and out of the conflict with my mother) I lost weight.  Seems it would have become obvious to someone over time.

Well, that's it for now.  I think the next order of things will be my mother's marriage (which she didn't tell me about until I came home from school for a weekend several weeks after the event - which was also the weekend I learned that we didn't live where we used to, where all my friends were, but had moved to a 400 acre farm which may have been beautiful but which to me was nothing other than a prison and a banishment).

Talk to you later.

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