Sunday, February 13, 2011

It's All Good

There’s not so much of a story to tell as there is an odd collection of thoughts to share from this past weekend.

This afternoon the Major’s Cub Scout Pack held their annual Pinewood Derby Race. This year Major Havoc and his Bear den raced their cars in a set of heats that saw the Major take second place in each of three heats. While it was a nice showing, it was not enough to earn first, second, or third place overall in a field of twelve “drivers.” He had a very nice car, a homemade Lightning McQueen that the Cubmaster kept referring to as the “Rusteze” car. I’m not certain all his pistons are firing. I listened to him explain the rules of the race, including some stern warnings about how a scout would be disqualified from racing if certain conditions were met. The conditions were centered on car malfunctions. Not obvious cheating or gross rules violations. Just malfunctions. During a race of wooden cars made by eight-year-old boys, those very same cars had to operate perfectly or the boys could be disqualified. This was from a man who insists that he does everything “for the boys.” He then stopped the race for five minutes and asked one Bear Scout and his Akela to come fix the boy’s car because there was a hair hanging from the back end. A hair. Everyone sat for five minutes while the offending hair was removed. I’m not certain how much drag a single strand of hair placed on the car, or what mayhem might have resulted if said hair were allowed to trail behind the wooden racer, flapping in the stiff breeze created by a five ounce block of pine hurtling down a track at .00000000006 miles per hour. It was painful. No, what caught my attention the most during this afternoon’s race wasn’t anything that took place during the race, but what took place in the boy’s bathroom during the race. Specifically, I was amused to find that the Catholic School where the race was held stored their Advent Wreath, complete with four candles, on a desk just inside the bathroom door. I didn’t know that Advent candles were scented, or that a venerated tradition such as the Advent wreath would serve double duty as both a prayerful reminder of the reason for the season and an air deodorizer during the remaining eleven months out of the year. Whoever said that you couldn’t be spiritual and efficient?

I woke up early this morning when nature called. There is one nature call that I don’t mind while camping. There is another that I avoid at all costs. I avoid it for several practical reasons and one completely irrational thought generated by the scene in Jurassic Park where the dude was eaten by a T-rex while sitting on the throne. That was completely uncool. Please, if I have to check out of this world suddenly, at least let me have my pants buckled properly. That particular activity leaves one completely vulnerable. So, it didn’t help at all that during my return trip to the campsite I stumbled upon a fox that was scrounging through our trash for leftovers just a few feet away. He took off rather quickly. At least it wasn’t the pack of coyotes that spent the night howling just over the ridge.

With just minutes to spare, I made it to church for communion this morning. I was dressed in two day old, filthy camping clothes. I positively reeked of campfire. I wore my dark shades. And I joined my fellow parishioners at the altar for communion, silently amused by the stoic faces, visible winces, and strange looks. I have to give them credit. Nobody uttered a word of criticism. I think it’s called Grace. I really like our congregation. And I had a strong spiritual need to receive the Lord’s Supper today. It’s a good way to start the week.

Saturday’s sunshine and warm temperatures turned the frozen tundra of eastern Kansas into a mess of wet grass and slush that made driving out of the campsite nearly impossible. I experienced the rare pleasure of good ol’ arrogant farm superiority country charm when the farmer who owned the property upon which we were camping used his John Deere back hoe to pull my grocery getter to the top of a hill. He was good natured about it, but dished out a heavy helping of grief because I drove a Toyota minivan on asphalt the363 days each year that I’m not camping on his land rather than owning a six wheeled Ford F series truck that averages 14 m.p.g. for the two days a year that I’m blessed to pay him a visit. Honestly, I don’t know how my priorities could be so screwed up. I took great pleasure in the fact that his tractor couldn’t tow me back up the hill on its own. His rear wheels were spinning in the snow and slush. He tried explaining that the pedal on the floor that engaged the rear wheels in such a manner that they turned together (rather than independently) wouldn’t stick, and kept slipping on him. Right. The pedals. Since he was backing up the hill with the tow strap hooked to my tow hitch, I put my van in reverse, gave it some gas, and working together we got the van up the hill to drier ground. Think he’d acknowledge team work? Think he’d acknowledge that his John Deere couldn’t tow my Toyota up a snowy hill on its own? In these parts, “Toyota” is a word that best belongs two paragraphs up, right about where the dinosaur ate his lunch. I thanked the farmer for his help. He drove away without another word.

He’s really a friendly, generous guy with a great sense of humor and a big heart for scouting. And one of the other dads took pictures that he promised to post on Facebook very soon. I’ll be sure and post that link as soon as I get it.

We are home. We are safe. The General had a great time, and we don’t smell like campfire any more.

It’s all good.


Marlis said...

I have to hand it to you Arby! You have a stout heart with all this camping. To me it's more of a four letter word that something I'd ever seriously consider. I hated camping as a kid even though I was an outdoorsy tomboy. Now I am a soft suburbanite and the idea of sleeping in a tent without access to a toilet and other comforts leaves me pale and scared. I got a huge laugh out of the Jurassic park reference.

Have a great day and a successful week!

Papa Bear said...

I love these stories!

Kathleen said...

I'm fairly certain you've found the right church congregation. And just be thankful you're a guy - we have the Jurassic Park image running through our head no matter what kind of business we're attending to!