Camp Turkey

The best time and place to eat a deep-fried turkey: November, at the family campout two weeks before Thanksgiving, surrounded by active young people who will eat all but a full slices so that I am not inclined to eat half the damned bird.

Seriously delicious, and courtesy of our wise and tireless Scoutmaster, Mr. E.

The Kid Sleeps

While the rest of the troop curls up in their tents, our intrepid Senior Patrol Leader throws down a ground cloth, a pad, and his sleeping bag alongside his backpack, curls up, and snores contentedly. Behind him is his camp chair, to which he has tied his crutches, upon which he has neatly hung his field uniform (“Class-As”), water bottle in reach.

He’s come a very long way since our first campout together 9-1/2 years ago. Now he wants to take me backpacking along the Pacific Crest Trail.  He has gone from video game couch-potato to an intrepid outdoorsman, and I give all the credit to the Boy Scouts of America and the encouragement of his teachers at school.

A little note to my friends in China and elsewhere who disparage the value of extra-academic endeavors beyond those that will polish college applications: when we slash everything out of our children’s lives but academics, we not only shortchange our offspring: we shortchange society, our nations, and the world at large.

Never in our history has it been more important to raise resilient children.

Start now.


Weather strange to these parts broke the back of the heat wave this morning. Sometime around 4:00am a breeze introduced its way into the room. The ominous, almost subsonic booms of distant thunder filled the air. And as dawn broke I looked at a sky painted with a frothy caramel mix of smoke from the brush fires and a line of monsoon storms stretching a hundred miles to the southwest, from Ojai to the Cortez Banks.

Indeed, there is nothing new about the tang of brush fire smoke tin the air his time of year. Monsoons, on the other hand, are a strange guest. They rarely show up this far north and west, choosing instead to boil up out of the Gulf of California and into the Sonoran desert to soak Phoenix and Tucson. The mix is novel, and portentous.

The storms will pass, the fires will abate. But this morning’s sky hints at a more abiding change, and leaves behind a grain of foreboding.