“Tradition!” sings/shouts Tevye in the musical “Fiddler on the Roof”.
"A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But in our little village of Anatevka,
you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof,
trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn't easy.
You may ask, why do we stay up there if it's so dangerous?
We stay because Anatevka is our home... And how do we keep our balance?
That I can tell you in one word... Tradition."
At times my sister Marjorie and I are very much like a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a simple tune without breaking our necks or wringing the necks of our loved ones. It isn’t easy. And how do we keep our balance?
That I can tell you in just two words: We don’t! We most certainly do not keep our balance (some would say we are very unbalanced….) but we have not yet fallen off the figurative roof nor have we broken any necks. Not ours, not our loved ones.
And it is, in part, our traditions that keep us on the roof, so to speak. Women’s and Children’s Camp is a tradition we honored religiously when our children were younger but one that we have neglected in recent years. This year we revived the Camp and vowed to neglect it not in the years to come.
Women’s and Children’s Camp was instituted early in our marriages when it became obvious that we enjoyed camping more than our men folk. We left them at home where they were happy and we went to the mountains where we were happy. In the Uinta National Forest, west of Heber, we would find an off-the-beaten-path meadow, set up our tents, dig a latrine, create a cooking area, and generally retreat from civilization for a few days. Most years we did not see any other humans from the time we set up camp to the time we broke it down. It was glorious.
Women’s and Children’s morphed over the years. Sometimes we camped in an established campground and once we invited the men. (Mistake ...They introduced too much drama!) Though some things have changed over the years, some things, our traditions, stayed the same. Listed are our camp traditions:
- Banana boats cooked on campfire coals
- Soccer game, Hislops v Watkins, played until someone got injured
- Watermelon, cooled in a creek and eaten from the rind
- Watercolor paintings done in a meadow by a stream
- Kids and parents sleep in separate tents
- Hammocks are a vital component
This year we honored some of our traditions, neglected others, and established a few new ones. Here are this year’s stories.
The plan was to meet Watkins at Duck Creek Campground. Duck Creek is in the mountains east of Cedar City and-- HOLY COW!!!!--the area is STUNNING!!!! Incredible lava flows…large expanses of massive, choppy fields of black basalt boulders ...surrounded by meadows and aspen/fir forests, rimmed by Bryce Canyon-esque red/yellow/orange rock pillars and columns. It is truly, TRULY beautiful country.
Marjorie told me we had reservations at Duck Creek Campground but she did not tell me which site was hers so when we arrived I asked the camp host to direct me to the site reserved for Watkins. She said it was on A loop somewhere. We found the Watkins name on site A28 and moved in.
Wanting to be completely ready to play when the Watkins arrived, we moved in completely. We put up both tents, inflated sleeping pads, and unrolled sleeping bags. We put the cooler in the shade, attached the propane to the camp stove, and set up the camp chairs. Fully moved in, we left camp for a bit to explore our hiking options and do a little fishing at Duck Creek Pond.
When we drove back into the campground, we were honked at and waved down by the camp host. “Are you in A28?” we were asked. Yes…. “The man who reserved A28 is here with his RV trailer. He has backed in and is setting up and you must move out.” Apparently there were two Watkins who reserved sites in the campground, one from CA and one from NV, and it was the CA Watkins who had rights to site A28. Marjorie Watkin’s reservation was for site B37.
The story does not end there. As we were dissembling our mountain home, the camp host again appeared. “Someone has moved into site B37. Would you consider taking one of the sites that is unoccupied?” And that is how we ended up camping in site A9.
While at Duck Creek we hiked to Cascade Falls (a waterfall that travels through a volcanic fissure from Navajo Lake to erupt out of a cliff), explored Mammoth Caves (a lava tube complex), cast for but did not catch fish in Duck Creek Pond and convinced Ella (the toddler) to kiss a snake. We played corn hole instead of soccer, saw seven pre-adolescent antelope, and watercolored in camp. The boys slept in hammocks, we forgot to bring bananas and watermelon, and I slept in the same tent as my mother.
And then Women’s and Children’s was over, adjourned for 2019. Already we are looking forward to 2020’s edition…. Who is bringing the watermelon and bananas?