The fireplace at Campsite 175, Hearthstone Point, Lake George, New York. Those are beans on dem dar griddle!
The rainfall started at midnight.
First as a soft pitter-patter. It actually sounded comforting, hitting the side of the tent. I lay in my sleeping bag, on top of a deflated air mattress, and thought, "This is sweet."
My other thought, pushed to one side given the gentleness of the rainfall, was, "Where the hell are my keys?"
You see, I was alone in my tent, which I had taken to calling my "bachelor pad." The kids had elected to sleep with Josie in her tent (and she had assured me she wouldn't be creeping into my tent at night, seeking forbidden love). Both Pauline and Amber had their own spaces. I was a man with my own tent, partying it up in the wilds of Lake George, New York.
There was, however, a high price to be paid for securing this independence. You see, as a result, I had been designated keeper of the games. Which meant that I had a veritable mountain balanced precariously over my head. Monopoly. Parchesi. Finish Lines. The Perfect Ten. The list went on and on. And if my tent got soaked...
Well, I could always rush them into my car. That is, if I had the keys. But the thing was, I had somehow lost my keys. The last time I had seen them was when I had been forced to move my car by the camp sheriff, around ten at night.
(That's the thing about camping, you know. You really have to be careful about where you put your stuff after dark. Otherwise, you'll never be able to find anything until the break of dawn.)
Oh, I had an idea where the keys could be--I *thought* they were in the pocket of one of the fold-up chairs. But those chairs had been placed into Pauline's car, and that was locked up.
Which meant, if my tent started to flood, I, single-handedly, would be responsible for obliterating hours of family-style entertainment. For taking away a source of my children's happiness, as vital as milk is for healthy bones. It was a fate that hung heavy upon my shoulders, even heavier as each drop of rain fell to the ground.
The happy little mist kept hitting against my tent for about twenty minutes. I started to get used to that pitter patter. I almost started to think that I might be able to fall asleep, content, safe in the knowledge that this was as bad as it was going to get.
And then, the pitter-pattering moved up a notch.
It became more of a "splotch splotch."
Oh shit. I rose from my sleeping bag, buttoned up my pants, and lifted up my lantern, glancing nervously at the pile of games. And, at my yellow legal pad, which contained the next few chapters of the story I was writing.
Dammit, I thought, I really better find those keys. So, I lifted myself up and zippered open the tent. In bare feet, I padded my way to the main campsite, to look over everything that we had left by the picnic tables.
The leaves felt oily and cold underneath my feet. I tried to ignore the fact that my shirt was getting soggy. With only the lantern as my guide, I made my way back to the campfire, and started hunting around.
There were two chairs left at the site, but neither contained my keys. I did manage to save four sweatshirts that had been left out, however.
I moved over to Pauline's car, where she had placed the other chairs. Locked tight. Did I dare to try to wake her up? No, no, it was midnight, she was undoubtedly fast asleep. I couldn't risk her ire.
So, sweatshirts and lantern in hand, I trudged back to my tent, dejected. Now what was I supposed to do? I unzipped the tent, wiped my feet, entered into my bachelor pad, zipped back up, sat down, and...well...
Then I took action. First, I used the lantern to look around the tent. Did I see water entering from anywhere? Well yes, as a matter of fact, there seemed to be a spray of water that kept trickling in, every few seconds, to my right. I opened up the tent and snuck around to the back...ah, looks as though I hadn't put the tarp on as tightly as I should have on that side.
Then I took a look at the games. My tent wasn't set up on perfectly flat ground, and I had placed all the games to the right, at the end of the descending slope. As a precaution, I decided to change that. I grabbed the stacks of games and moved them to my left. And, to be even safer, I grabbed a tarp that I couldn't figure out what to do with and placed it over the games.
What next, I asked myself. What would make me feel safer about this situation?
Okay, here's the part that you're going to find totally insane.
After that, I threw my soggy shirt and pants off and spread myself out on my sleeping bag. I wrapped myself up in blankets and turned off the lantern. Then, I closed my eyes, took in a deep breath, and I...
Well, I'm not ashamed. What I did was to visualize that I was creating a giant pink bubble around the tent, protecting me and keeping me completely dry and safe from the elements. Each time I breathed out, I imagined that I was making that pink bubble even stronger, building upon it, making it grow larger and pinker with each and every breath.
And, just for good measure, I called up an image of my friend, Psychic Sue, in my head. Y'all remember Psychic Sue, don't you? She was the star of my Henniker adventures, last year. I visualized the image of her disembodied head, swirling around in front of me, helping to build that pink bubble, in much the way that we always strive to create a bubble of creativity whenever we work of theater productions together.
Oh, I know, this sounds insane! In fact, here's the exact image of Sue that I called up:
That was it. That's all I did. For the rest of the evening, I sat there, visualizing that pink bubble, visualizing Sue's head swirling around me, visualizing them keeping me safe and dry, as the rain grew stronger. As thunder started to crash overhead. As the rain took on a creative life all its own, a symphony in the sky, with grand crescendos and calm, pastoral stretches. And there I was, just a dry little note tucked into one lonely page of music.
Occasionally, I would lift my head up and turn the lantern on, just to double check on things. I discovered wet patches here and there, but nothing too alarming. By three o'clock, I felt calm and secure enough to let myself go and actually attempt to drift...off...to...
I awoke at at nine in the morning. The rain had stopped a few hours ago. And you know what?
My tent was completely dry, except for a few minor puddles that I was easily able to mop up with a towel.
Pauline and Josie's tents did not fare as well. Josie's tent had three huge puddles in it, and her clothes were all soaking wet. Pauline literally had a small river in hers. In fact, it got so bad that she had been forced to flee her tent at around two, and spent the rest of her evening sleeping in the front seat of her car. Only Amber had escaped the downpour.
Now, really, I'd like to give myself credit. I'd like to place all the credit on that strong pink bubble and that image of Psychic Sue's head spinning around my tent. But really, I have to admit, I think it had just as much to do with my midnight check of the tent and all the precautions I took.
As it turns out, Josie and the kids fell asleep before the rain started to fall, and had left a window wide open. They slept through the rain, oblivious to the puddles that were forming. Pauline, while awake, had depended upon Amber's efforts that afternoon to make the tent waterproof, ignoring the fact that Amber had actually given up on securing a large section of the tent after having hurt her fingers on the bungy cord. Rather than double check anything, Pauline stayed inside her sleeping bag until she had no choice but to leave.
So, there you are, potential campers. When it rains, I suggest double checking your quarters, making sure they're rainproof, taking your clothes off, jumping into a sleeping bag, and visualizing a pink protective bubble all around you. It's the "nocompromises" method of camping, which I offer up to you, free of charge.
Just don't tell your friends, though. They'll think you're completely off your nut.
Oh, one more thing. When visualizing, DO NOT think about the disembodied head of Psychic Sue. That one you DO have to pay for. And it doesn't come cheap!