The photo is from 1978. My son, his truck. Behind him, my truck.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Robins Nest and Little Brown Bats

July, 2011

Returning to the old Hawkeye Trail Camp now, I'm repairing the summer landscape of my teenage years.  There are about a dozen structures remaining from the old camp on Silver Lake.  The sturdiest of them - requiring, so far, the least repair - is an architectural peculiarity known as Robins Nest:

When Jules and Virgil saw Robins Nest, Jules said, “That’s your party home, right?”

Well, no.  The current owners use the ground floor to store firewood.  The upper floor is unused. 

Back in the days when Hawkeye was a coed summer camp, Robins Nest was an oddity: the only cabin with two stories, the only cabin with no screens.  Oddest of all, on the upper floor it housed the oldest teenage girls without privacy, exposed to bugs on their flesh and the occasional flying bat caught in their hair. 

I was raised to believe that bats knew their way around at night, but sometimes after lights out in the boys camp we’d hear another outbreak of screaming and beds crashing from up the hill, and we’d know that another little brown bat had entered the intoxicating, bewildering scent of hair recently shampooed with a disorienting cloud of strawberry or daffodil or lavender.  Those bats weren't stupid.  They'd gone where we wished to be.

Down the hill in the lakeside cabin of the oldest teenage boys where I lay, some of us would wonder: if it were my nose at her neck, would she scream and leap up and crash the metal bedframe against another?  Would a dozen angry girls surround and beat me with brooms and pillows until I flew away into the night? 

Those of us lacking experience, we suspected the answer was Yes. 

Those others, the experienced ones, would only smile.

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