(Write about a family who decides to camp out in the back yard during a power outage.)
Bob and Margie looked at one another with a look of knowing panic! More than panic, horror actually! What could they possibly do? How could they corral these four kids in a dark house with no electronic tentacles to the outside world?
The family had gathered around the kitchen table where one candle provided all of the ambient light. The family was Bob, the head of the clan and father to two sets of twins, and Margie, head cook and bandaid applier for minor scrapes, and also the mother of the kids. Then we have ten year old Buck and Oz, boys both, and eight year old girls Sadie and Sandy. They were a handful in the best of times so Bob and Margie knew this was going to be tough.
Bob picks up the big metal spoon that grandma used to use for canning, and bangs it on the table top. That is always the signal that he expects quiet children who are at least pretending to listen.
Bob begins with a very brief description of what a power outage is and the possibility it could last a while. After fielding a few questions from his future scientist son Oz, he goes on to tell them in his most seductive voice that he is willing to try an adventure BUT they must all agree to help and do it quietly.
Here is his plan or the plan he presents.
Dad will get the tent and the camping lanterns from the garage.
Mom will pack a picnic style camping supper with lots of snacks and drinks.
Each of the kids will find their own sleeping bags, and a comic or two and one favorite non electronic toy.
Everyone will meet back here in half an hour for a night of camping in our own neighborhood!
Then he gives the boys a flashlight and the girls a flashlight. He will use the lantern and Margie will use the candle.
Now the question is, “Do you want to do this?” With that he has to sush a loud cheer!
Ok back here in thirty minutes and dress warm!
Bob has time to find the tent and set it up and also build a small campfire in the fire ring from the patio. The kids are eagerly waiting and ready. Excitement is running high!
Out they go to camp! They quickly devoured everything Margie had brought to eat. It was about this time that they were getting restless, the newness of the idea wearing off, they were beginning to squabble. Even something as unusual as sitting in a circle around a fire was wearing thin.
“Ghost stories!” Dad yelled! “Yes!” Said the boys. “No!” Whined the girls, too scary!
Mom said, “Let’s try something different!” “Let’s try to make up something like a story BUT one will begin, and then the next person will add a word or two on to the story, around the circle until we have a whole story.” “What do you think?” “If you want to add a bunch of words or just one word it is ok, I will try to help you out sometimes as we go along.”
Oz yells out, “Ok, me first!” he said. He has a devilish look in his eye! And so he begins..
OZ…Park bench! Ha ha.
MOM...I am but a bench sitting near the edge of a river. It is becoming springtime and everything is changing, evolving, once frozen and sparse, now life begins again.
SADIE ...yells ducks!
MOM...Early morning ducks waddle by my base looking for fallen crumbs of food dropped by passing visitors or seeds thawing from the snow and ice. They chatter among themselves as they move down the shore always in search of food.
DAD…a fat man (chuckle)
MOM...Shortly a short man all bundled up in a muffler and coat comes by with a fat bulldog on a leash. The dog snif snif sniffing at everything he passes. Only the dog knows if he is sniffing for food or if he is just experiencing who or what has recently visited these places using his best sensing device, his nose. Both seem to be making small huffing noises as they move by.
MOM...The bench would like someone to sit and visit or rest awhile. Use him, the bench, for what he has been put here for, but at this time of day, early morning, most creatures are on the move, between morning coffee and picking up the newspaper from the corner store, walking the dog or on their way somewhere.
MOM...The voices are loud as a middle aged couple approach the bench. They are arguing, about money it would seem, their voices get louder as they reach him and luckily they pass quickly, voices fading as they move down the shore path.
BUCK...Someone to sit down.
MOM...Finally someone sits! An older gent, unfolds his newspaper and with a quick snap turns and folds it again to the sports section. Muttering to himself he goes through scores of games, second hand and after the fact coaching of missed plays and mistakes. If only he were young again he would show them a thing or two. Ah, but he isn’t young and before he stiffens up, he groans to his feet and shuffles away.
MOM...Now comes a pretty girl in a yellow dress. She is busy with her cell phone, what else, of course, and hums a current song while her fingers fly over the buttons trying to find a person to share some information or arrange a time or place. A quick mumbled conversation ends in a giggle so she must have been successful.
MOM...Mornings are usually like this...a passing crowd...not a resting or passive visitor, not someone or something a bench can get to know. Oh, there are always a few regulars during the day, some pleasant, some not so nice, like the older fellow who regularly raises his rump to pass gas right here on this bench.
MOM...A young Mother with a stroller visits often and if her baby sleeps she reads a book in the sunshine but if the baby is fussing, she lifts him out and feeds him making soothing and cooing noises. That is always nice, for the bench, folks seem to forget he is there, a witness to it all. Yes it is not a bad life, seeing and hearing bits and pieces of life.
BUCK...a kid on a bike.
MOM...A bicycle whizzes by and then another, they are not supposed to be on the walking path but as always happens, kids take short cuts and hope to escape detection. It is amazing the way folks move by him.
MOM...Most folks take no notice of him at all but today he thinks he will have a few “sitters”. The swan family has been active on the river for the last few days and people love to watch them, coming with a variety of cameras and wanting to freeze the moment to take home to share with family over dinner perhaps.
DAD...how about friends?
MOM...The bench has been wishing and waiting for a few weeks now for a regular happening in spring, young lovers, walking hand in hand, talking quietly, sitting close and often whispering words to each other he cannot quite hear but knows it is about love. If a bench could smile, he would be smiling, thoughts of the many couples who have sat here talking, remembering, planning, they are by far the best visitors. Old lovers are nice too, so much reminiscing but it might surprise you to know that old lovers are sometimes new lovers too. Having been given a second chance in the golden years they cherish the moments. Yes if a bench could get teary eyed he would do that too.
MOM...Yes, I am but a park bench but I am also an observer and the things I see are marvelous, life in all forms, and I will testify that life is good!
Margie says quickly before the mood gets active, “And now we need to figure out how to get us all into the tent without bringing in mosquitos.” “ I’m glad we already arranged the sleeping bags so we know where we are going.”
Oz says, “I think we should do this once a week, I’m already making up a story about a werewolf!” “I think I could do a whole story by myself!”
And so, the family may have begun a whole new tradition, family time under the stars, around the campfire telling tall tales!