Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Camp Life

If bike rides and ice cream cones make me feel like a kid again, camping takes me right back to my first years as a young adult.

Not because I spent those years backpacking, or even car camping.

I didn't have to. The first apartment I lived in was carved out of one third of a garage. It always felt closer to outdoor living than to indoor living. That might have been due to the centipedes that showed up inside the doorway, and the occasional snails (who left their silvery tracks on my ugly indoor/outdoor carpet). Once, just once, I got lucky, and a cricket woke me up. He stayed, chirping in the bathroom. After a few days I wasn't so sure it was lucky.

My kitchen was really just the entry way. There were two burners (much like our camping set-up today) and a refrigerator (actually a step up from the camping cooler). I had no oven; a campfire would have given more options. Camping also affords much more counter space than that kitchen, thanks to a large picnic table. In my old apartment the counter barely held one plate.

I always enjoy washing dishes when we're camping. We keep a bottle of Dr. Bronner's soap in the corner of our camp cookware box. The bottle is about 20 years old, its label greasy and illegible. We squirt a little into a pot or a mixing bowl, whatever we have. Boiling water gets poured over, and we splash the dishes around. They're clean when we're done. Or so we tell ourselves.

Dish washing was less fun in that apartment. There was no sink in the 'kitchen'. Instead, the tiny bathroom sink, which I could have  reached by turning around from the stove top if it weren't for the bathroom door, did double duty. It never seemed very hygienic. But apparently I survived.

But the main reason camping reminds me of starting out in that first apartment is that many of the dishes and pans in our camp cookware box were my first dishes and pans.

And especially this knife. I bought it one of the first days I was on my own. Boy did I feel grown up walking into the Co-op Hardware Store to buy a knife for my kitchen. I used that knife for almost everything--and everything, back then, amounted mainly to slicing bread and chopping onions (for risotto or pasta--that's all I remember cooking in that kitchen).


Charles Shere said...

Ya coulda asked for a knife, ya know, we had a few junkers. Still have 'em, in fact, better than yours…

lshere said...

I just now saw this and am trying to remember what apartment that was and I realize I have no idea. Where was it?

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