summer camp state of mind

I never attended summer camp as a kid, but family camping trips always included my grandmother, a kitchen’s worth of pots and pans, and her sturdy army cot.
Thus equipped, my formidable grandmother was ready for anything and wanted nothing more of a camping trip than to be in charge of the campfire kitchen all day. We never objected.
My single camp stool does a fine job of conjuring up memories of a child’s summer kingdom.
Add some incredibly sultry weather, a couple rare rainstorms, lots of fascinating insects winging in and out, and I won’t leave the back yard all weekend.
And, yes, my keister just barely fits, thank you very much.

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Glaucium grandiflorum is blooming like this is its last summer. And it just may be, because they are known to be short-lived.

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The orange arctotis has such a glow and shimmer to its petals, it just never gets old, which is great because it’s never out of bloom either.

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Marty found the grate on the docks at “Fish Harbor,” site of the old canneries, when he worked on the USC research boats.

Long Beach harbor was formerly home to a Navy base, and the old downtown used to have wonderful Army surplus stores to shop for cots and other cool, Foreign Legion-type stuff.
All the old thrift shops and surplus stores have long since closed. My little camp stool came from a vendor on eBay, where you can find a wide range offered.
Remodelista recently showcased a nice selection of daybed-length cots, just like my grandmother’s.

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18 Responses to summer camp state of mind

  1. hoov says:

    My Arctotis are done for the year–‘Flame’ keeps going? I think I need ‘Flame’.

    I have vague, sketchy memories of visiting “The Pike” which was an amusement park in LB, apparently quite run down by that time…

  2. Jane Strong says:

    Oh, yes, the Pike. We could never go as it was a “bad” place. But I do remember the army navy surplus stores. We could get nice, warm overcoats there. Does it even get cold and misty anymore? But best of all was Acres of Books. I loved that place.

  3. Denise says:

    Hoov, I never saw the Pike. Marty says when his family drove out here from Back East, they came straight to Long Beach, stayed at a cheap motel to get their bearings, and the kids played at the Pike while the grownups found a house to rent. Not sure if I believe him since he comes from a family of infamous storytellers. Old Long Beach had all the tattoo parlors before they were trendy! I planted the arctotis in spring and they’re just getting going in June/July. Maybe yours are from last year and on a different cycle?

  4. Denise says:

    Jane, such a crime that they closed Acres of Books for some planned redevelopment project that was never completed. The building still stands, abandoned. We had a nice recurrence of the old “June gloom” this year, morning fog and marine layer, which had disappeared the past couple Junes.

  5. Alan @ It's Not Work, It's Gardening! says:

    I’ve never done much camping, but when on the RV roadtrip a couple summers ago the mother/daughter tandem in the camper next to us at the Badlands had a classic outdoor kitchen setup: pots and pans hanging from a foldout rack over a freestanding sink. Your story and photo reminds me of that. Also that I need to start doing more camping I think.

  6. rusty duck says:

    Love the combo of silver and orange. I finally managed to get californian poppies to grow for me this year but Glaucium is better, more subtle.

  7. Denise says:

    @Alan, that little camp stool will probably be my only camping experience this summer! I need to do more camping too…but garden tours are what get my vacation time!
    @Jessica, I’ve noticed some more crowns developing away from the main plant, so maybe the glaucium will have an appearance next summer too. But otherwise I’d say your Calif. poppies are probably more reliable for orange flwrs and lacy grey-green leaves.

  8. Kris P says:

    Like Hoov, I find my Arctotis (‘Pink Sugar’) have pooped out for the season but as I think they started blooming in January, I’m not holding it against them. The foliage does get scraggly, though, so I may root some cuttings and change the plants out in the fall as I did last year.

  9. Denise says:

    Kris, I stopped growing arctotis for a while because they made such huge, thick mats that got a little rangy. I’m really enjoying them again in the garden this summer after a spring planting. San Marcos Growers says they bloom into November, which is what I remember. Now I’m curious to see how long these hold out. If you’ve been growing them as perennials and they started blooming in January, I can see how they’d be a little tired out by now!

  10. David Feix says:

    Arctotis pretty much bloom 10 months of the year here, especially if deadheaded periodically. I shear them back by half several times a year to manage their size.

  11. Jessica says:

    Speaking of summer camp I have a bon appetite spread to share with you that may result in us setting a fire to cook over in the back yard… I’m gunna pack that now so I don’t forget ^_^

    Hope you and the garden are holding up in this unexpected rain! Miss you :-*

  12. Love your camping story!

    We used to do a lot of camping, but with a much more minimalistic setup. I hate cleaning at home, and it’s even worse at a campground :-).

    My little Glaucium grandiflorum seedling died in the 100+ degree heatwave a few weeks ago. Will look for a replacement because your clump is inspirational.

  13. Your blooms are chair are great. Glad I never did summer camp – boy scouts and piano lessons were bad enough! But camping was great, especially once we left sultry Alabama and went to Denver…and the cool Rocky Mtns to the west. Memories!

    I need to break out my camp chair and look at flowers…at 9000′ in Cloudcroft…soon:-)

  14. “blooms *and* chair are…” (learn to type David)

  15. Les says:

    I hope you enjoyed your backyard staycation. When I camp I take a beach chair with me for the back support. I especially need it as the evenings around the campfire progress and sipping begins in earnest.

  16. Denise says:

    @David, thanks as always for your informed comments!
    @Jessica, but then we’d have to stop eating your amazing beet salads!
    @Gerhard, I feel the same way about camping, so much cleaning, organizing. It was great as a kid when everyone did that for you!
    @David, I can see the Boy Scouts influence but didn’t know about the piano!
    @Les, it’s true, the camp stool is a short-term perch, and I’d hate to add alcohol into the equation — talk about tipsy!

  17. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Staying in your garden all weekend sounds delightful! Is the porch still set up? When I was six we drove and tented (from Vermont) across the U.S. and Canada twice; first to visit my eldest sister who’d moved to Alaska and the second time to move there ourselves. There were six of us and each evening’s driving would end with setting up the tent (I watched) and my mom setting up the Coleman gas stove to prepare some sort of meal. Not a big fan of camping anymore but the memories are sweet. Thanks for bringing them back.

  18. Denise says:

    Peter, we did the West Coast to East Coast trip to visit my mom’s relatives, four of us in a Pontiac Grand Prix, me around 11 reading The Hobbit, staying every night at a Rodeway Inn. No camping involved. Marty did have a VW camper that we took up the coast to Vancouver in ’86 that still stands as my favorite trip ever. My kind of camping!

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