Summer Memories – Birch Bark

In our ongoing collection of Summer Memories, Jac takes us to a glade where stories grow.

Birch Bark

Do you remember?  Was there any more glorious feeling than cool birch bark sliding under hands and bare feet, across summer clothing exposed body parts, soft and scratchy with thousands of tickly frayed edges?  Maybe, just one feeling was… as suddenly, you’ve climbed ten feet above the rest of the family and find yourself in a special universe.

Birch trees were engineered for my young self.  They had to be.  The low hand and foot holds for my small fingers and toes, the wide and nearly horizontal branching trunks had to be designed for childhood climbing, lounging, watching and imagining.  The millions of small, soft, light green leaves gave just enough cover for my universe to be hidden from prying eyes, while the world around me was like having a multiplex all to myself.

That’s what they were, the images I saw from my hiding place, campground picture shows.  Choose any of silvery white chairs the tree offered and watch.  I can see them all clearly.

The hundreds of other families all staking claim to a small piece of park.

My brothers laughing and arguing while a baseball smashed leather.  A worm, sinker and bobber sailing in a long slow arc to the patiently waiting water and the darting fish below.

Dad feigning fear desperately trying to find his lost daughter, while my hand covered giggles.  Not daring to move to another of my shows, for fear of giving myself away.

Mom, hands on hips, demanding the dog explain herself, while the dog was way too busy gobbling the yummy sugar doughnut to answer.

That was my favorite seat.  I loved watching her smile, as she moved around the campsite.

The picnic table, made from whole logs, with bolts that seemed feet long holding it together.  I always wondered about TB and SH?  Who were they, to have their initials carved into the top and surrounded by a heart so long ago?  And, who were T, L and A carved next to them?  Must be their kids initials, I told myself.

When the action was slow, birch trees are the best places for daydreaming.  I could imagine anything up  in my little universe watching clouds drifting over the water.

Riding a gigantic white bird over the mountain, my fingers curled around delicate misty white feathers and the huge splash as she lands in the middle of the lake… only to hear a brother’s laughter calling me down from my perch to see his fish.  If I wasn’t quick he’d splash me again with that stinky water from its pail.

Oh, yes… I can remember birch bark, like it was yesterday.

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