Every summer, my parents planned elaborate camping trips for myself and my brothers.
When we would pack for these long trips, our old station wagon was filled to the brim. Every camping item that we owned miraculously found a place in the back of our blue Ford Taurus.
Many a memory was made with that camping gear. I fondly remember our old Coleman lantern. It was rusted with a squeaky handle, and my dad would fill the fuel tank, pump it up and light the mantle with a match. Its bright flame would draw a host of moths and other flying critters that secretly terrified me and would leave me swatting away pests all evening. However, many a card game and mug of hot cocoa were had around this source of light. My mother would walk around the campsite, fill paper cups with water, line up our toothbrushes for our evening bedtime routine and check our sleeping bags for creepy crawlers with that lantern in hand. Once in bed, my dad would lower the flame and the lantern would cast shadows around our trailer. It was very cozy.
The other item I remember was our camp stove – dark green with a fire engine-red fuel tank The paint chipped and scratched after countless uses. It had a reserved spot at the end of every picnic table we sat around. My parents were camp food connoisseurs and made every hotdog and can of beans taste exceptionally delicious on that little stove. My mother, who reigned supreme as camp stove chef, would make amazing homemade seafood chowder and fish and chips from our fresh catch of the day on those two rusted burners.
The lantern and the stove were the center of what brought our family together for every meal and evening activity wherever we camped. I don’t remember them ever being shiny or brand new. In fact, they looked a little tired and worn, but they served a great purpose. And, if a rusty old lantern and a scratched up camp stove could talk, they’d tell you all about a family that laughed and adventured together and that the back of a Ford Taurus is not all that comfortable.
By Danielle McNelly, Nortech for Windows, Doors & Sunrooms