Reflections: “Tents and Trees”

My name should never be associated with the term “roughing it!” So you’ll understand when I tell you that our family vacations while growing up were not my favorite thing.  We camped – yup! Camped – every year! When I say camped, I mean out in the Badlands of North Dakota; a tent, sleeping bags, a small cook-stove, Coleman lanterns, and a campfire at night to keep “critters” away. Annie Oakley, I was not.  I was constantly on the lookout for any bugs that may have gotten on or even near me.  Being sent to gather wood for our campfire was a nightmare – how could I carry a bundle of wood when anything could be crawling in the pile?

My memories, however, weren’t all bad.  I can close my eyes and almost taste my sweet momma’s griddle pancakes she made each morning. Thinking about those at night made sleeping in the tent almost bearable.  And no one could make me laugh like daddy. Sitting around the campfire at night he’d sing the same two songs: “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” and “Home on the Range.” To this day I can sing every word to both of those songs.

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My quiet place.

During the day I’d often sneak away to my quiet place, where I felt safe from creepy crawlies.  Up in a big  pine tree was the perfect sitting branch, where I could lean against the tree and lose myself in book or children’s magazine.  Instantly I was transported to anywhere I wanted to be and feel safe.  I loved being up in my tree, just reading with the breeze blowing.

I’ve never outgrown my dislike for camping and tents, but for some reason I’ve hung onto that same old Coleman lantern.  I just can’t seem to part with it . . . kind of find myself humming “Home on the Range” when I stop and look at it.   As for reading, that’s always been a love that has stayed with me. Except for still climbing a tree to do it!

This month I’d like to share several of my favorite children’s books that I loved to read to my classes while teaching.  They always bring back some wonderful memories; both of dear children I taught as well as some adventures we had with these incredible books!

Enjoy “Summers Past” with us!

Mary Byrne Kline

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