It’s hard to find something more universally uplifting than more pleasant weather. This week, we found joy in weather that is not always welcome, especially at summer camp–a week of daily rain. After about a month without a drop of rain, the skies opened up and dropped relief in the form of raindrops. Rain typically messes with our plans, especially if it is accompanied by lightening. But, this was a situation where we had gone so long without it, we were happy to alter our plans to accommodate it. We had had too many 105 degree days. The creek had dried up a week or two ago. We were desperate for a break. The rain came, and it returned the next day. Each day since, it has come back to visit. The temperatures have dropped a full 20 degrees, which feels heavenly to us. You really long to be outside this week. There has been a steady breeze in the air that gets the temperature to a better place than you could ever get with a thermostat.
The milfoil on the river continues to be a nuisance regardless of weather or seemingly anything else. It’s an aquatic plant that has come up in droves this summer. It covers pretty much all the river except for the major channels. The water out in front of Lakeshore is full of this plant, to the point that John, the waterfront director, must periodically wade out and remove it by hand. If you go down to the waterfront on a breezy day, you’ll see small channels in the water, where canoes, kayaks, motor boats, John, and others have moved through enough to make a small waterway within the river. The water there seems to flow, while all around it the water is stagnant. Josh and I were waiting on the dock to help John dock a pontoon boat, when I heard a splash behind me and realized my dog, Digby, had jumped off the dock, into the water, thinking that the milfoil was just a small grassy hill peaking up out of the water. Birds nest on this aquatic plant. It wraps around the propeller of the motorized boats. If you swim in the lake with it, you will likely feel very creeped out when it brushes you in the water, though you might enjoy the scratch on your back, if you can get past that it is seaweed giving you a backrub.
This week we welcomed our second Junior High main camp, Senior High Watersports, Camp Peace, and Lebonheur Heart Camp. Heart Camp has come every year for many summers now. This year was their largest yet with around 90 campers, which was about as big as our Junior High camp. All the campers here have had major heart surgery. Most have had their chests opened up, so it is an inspiring thing to see them all together enjoying a week of camp in the heat of the summer. The adults raved to us about our staff and about the weather this week. They were glad we had finally took their advice to adjust the heat. I told them that we had seen that on our evaluations for years and finally decided to do something about it. The truth, though, is that I was just as relieved to have such good weather.
Last week at nearly every blessing, the camps did the Johnny Appleseed blessing. It goes:
Oh, the Lord’s been good to me,
and so I thank the Lord,
for giving me the things I need:
the sun and the rain and the appleseed,
The Lord’s been good to me.
According to popular camp tradition, when you sing this blessing, it will rain. I have checked this with other camps, and this theory is not just unique to Lakeshore. I don’t know any correlation between the blessing and rain, other than its mention of rain towards the end. But then, it also mentions sun and appleseeds. We do certainly get our share of sun after the blessing, and I guess those that eat apples at camp obtain some seeds. I see the camp have different attitudes toward this idea of the blessing bringing rain. Some set out to avoid it on days that we will knowingly be outdoors. Others will tempt fate, singing the blessing defiantly, daring it to rain on them. Then we have times like recently this summer, when we had almost forgotten what rain looked like, and we were ready to try anything to get a break from heat, sunshine, and dry throats. But, we found, to our dismay, that not even the Johnny Appleseed blessing would bring rain. Then Sunday came and rain filled the cracks in the dried up dirt. Water ran through the creekbeds once more and the air cooled enough to bring us back outdoors with smiles on our faces.
This Friday fell on the 13th of the month and so yet another superstition played a role in our week. I wondered why Friday would be the day to associate with unluckiness, and I discovered that at least since the time of the Canterbury Tales (1300s), Friday has been considered an unlucky day. It is traditionally been seen as a bad day to start a journey or a project. In Spanish speaking countries, Wikipedia says that Tuesday is the unlucky day, thereby making Tuesday the 13th the day you want to avoid. Then, in Italy the 17th rather than the 13th is unlucky, so you want to avoid Friday the 17th. It’s funny to me that since work weeks began to dominate the culture, Friday is now seen as the most awesome day of the week. We have pop songs about it, and we start many of our trips on Friday as well as virtually every home improvement project we undertake. The world can take us away from these ideas pretty quickly as our world changes. But, every now and then we return to them.
After a week of Johnny Appleseed, we got a week of rain. Even on Friday the 13th, the rain came from across the river (the reverse direction from how storms normally travel here) and kept our day nice and cool. Some of the campers ran out the door and danced in the downpour. The let the blessings fall on their faces and hair, without concern about how it was soaking their clothes. They would find a time to change later. For now that thing we’ve been begging for is falling from the sky, free of charge like God’s grace. Keep singing kids, the Lord has been good to you, indeed.