Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A Dock Somewhere

Just had a sudden flash of memory, something I hadn't thought about in a very long time.

When I was much younger, I spent several summers working at a camp in Maryland. Staff members had one day off per week. Those of us who did not escape the grounds on a given day off would sometimes tote sleeping bags and flashlights down the steep path to the waterfront so that we could sleep on the dock. Some brave souls actually slept on the little floating dock. The occasional wake from a passing ship (the dock was on a large, well-traveled river) made sleeping on the floating dock a little too daring for me. I can swim well enough, but I did not relish the thought of waking up in that dark, cold water, trapped in a soggy sleeping bag.

The top half of each cabin was screened-in, with tarps to pull down in bad weather, there was no electricity or running water, and it was often hot and humid (remember, this was Maryland in the summer). Sleeping in the cabin on your day off would be a little bit like going to the office on your own time and sitting at your desk; your campers would invariably forget that you were off and you'd usually end up working. Also, it was impossible to avoid the normal wake-up time in the cabin area because of the hustle and bustle of the daily cabin clean-up period scheduled each morning.

But on the dock, there was almost always a cool breeze. It was possible to sleep in the open there because the breeze kept the mosquitoes away. The dock extended well into the river, keeping away the creepy crawlies that would have been encountered on shore. At the waterfront, you could sleep later because activity didn't start down there until after breakfast.

I was young enough to sleep well in spite of the hard wood planks beneath my ancient sleeping bag. In fact, some of the most restful sleep I've ever had was on that dock. The waves lapping gently at the pilings, coupled with the cool, steady breeze, were an anesthetic that made staying awake nearly impossible for a weary camp counselor. The occasional sounding of a mournful foghorn only served to speed the sedation.

I don't even own a sleeping bag now, but I'm sure I could come up with something to put on top of the air mattress that would be de rigueur at this stage in my life. I'd like to find myself a nice dock to escape to now and then, A Dock Somewhere...


Virginia Gal said...

oh that sounds lovely, the water gently putting you to sleep....a dock somewhere :-)

Random Kath said...


How funny . . . I put a poem yesterday on my blog that totally mirrors your post . . . something about docks seem attractive to our souls these days, I wonder why? The promise of a journey? The quiet of walking on the boards looking forward? Who knows?

Merci said...

It was lovely. And you really can't just sleep on any old dock, it wouldn't really be safe! This one was safe because it was part of an extensive property belonging to the camp.

random kath-
Yes, I agree with all of that! And the sight and sound of the water does something for the soul, as well. My husband comments on that frequently.

Anonymous said...

This week has been the same for me. I told S yesterday that what I needed was a week at the beach somewhere, sleeping in the sunshine. Forgor my manners yesterday as I was close to being the walking dead. Next time lets have lunch, just us, what do you think?

Merci said...

I'd like that a lot. No breach of manners whatsoever! You know I don't have those expectations. We'll talk later!

Joe Tornatore said...

no Merci story is without creepy crawlers.

Merci said...

It started in childhood, with Creepy Crawlers made with Plastigoop in a Thingmaker.

I grew up in a housing development across the street from a crick, and I spent many summers working at a camp DEEP in the woods in MD, very close to a state park. I live in a wooded area now. I guess I've had more than my fair share of creepies and crawlers in my life!

I have some rodent stories to recount sometime soon...