The cool evenings and warm afternoons of Fall have come to the Shore to stay for a little while. It is getting to the point where those of us who are stubbornly waiting to turn on the heat have been tested. A chill begins as soon as the sun passes behind the tall ridges to our west. You close the windows you had open in the warmth of 2 and 3 o’clock. You put on your thick socks and long sleeves. You snuggle on the coach with a loved one or a furry pet utilizing this ancient form of heating until you can’t stand it any more. Those days are surely coming, but we can hold off just a little longer before we flip that switch and smell the dust burned off of the heating element–that tell-tale sign that you have turned the heat on for the first time.
These days make it a joy to work at camp. The daytime weather beckons you outside to feel the sunshine warm up the cool air left from the morning. You can hold onto your suntan just a little longer, if you make a point of going out on these sunny afternoons. Then the evening takes over, and it becomes the ideal camp fire temperature. It is cool enough that the fire is welcome, but not so cold that you feel the need to stand in the fire. This keeps you from that uncomfortable practice of having one side of your body almost flaming hot while the other is icy cold. You have to rotate periodically to thaw one end out and free the other from the heat. If you back up any, however, the wind makes you cold on both sides. This pirouette you have to do doesn’t enter our nostalgic thoughts of camp fires too often. When you think of camp fires, you see yourself seated, maybe roasting a marshmallow, telling stories and singing songs.
It was a sad moment for all the staff earlier in the week, when we buried Miles, the camp dog. He had just been diagnosed with cancer and then been hit by a car. He hardly moved and looked to be in pain pretty constantly. We decided to put him down Tuesday. Travis dug the grave with the backhoe, and the whole staff gathered around the grave. We told stories. Several tears were shed, and we tossed dirt on top of our old friend. He is resting behind the tabernacle with Bailey and Shadow, the two dogs who basically raised him. There was a strong breeze that day, and you couldn’t help but feel that the air around us knew that something was happening.
The Waterfront this week has been beautiful. There’s something about that mixture of sun and wind that does great things for the looks of the river. The steady wind we’ve had keeps it moving, with blue waves cresting all over and the sun makes it sparkle with this crispness that makes you want to reach out and touch it. I was surprised one afternoon at the sight of some sort of diving duck out on the water. It was black with a long neck. It seemed to sneak up to the shore, then dove under water for what seemed like minutes. Then, he popped up out of the water many yards away, before diving back under. I never saw him again.
Forces of nature are sweeping through all around. The wind is changing. The nights are getting longer. Some guests are returning and others are leaving us. During some of these times when we stand out on the shores, we are reminded of so many things: the beauty, coolness, warmth, the fact that even we are visitors. These times ebb and flow like the river. Let’s get out there sometime, so we can reach out and touch that beauty and not squander this day.