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The Craven and The Crag Chapter One, Part 2
Nine year old Raven Quincy is attending summer camp for the first time. To find out what that is like, please visit this link:
New World Discovred Part 2
I had finally drifted off to sleep when a trumpet playing “Reveille” woke me the next morning. I heard a bunch of girls instantly jumping out of their bunks. I groaned and rolled over, facing the wall.
“Get up!” snapped Wendy. “Didn’t you hear Reveille?” I pretended not to hear her.
“Raven, you need to get up,” said Cathy. “You don’t want to be late for Line Call.” She unzipped my sleeping bag, and a blast of icy air surged in.
“Hey!” I protested.
“Hurry up,” Cathy urged.
‘Why are they getting us up at 7am?’ I grumbled to myself while I crawled out of my sleeping bag. ‘I thought you were supposed to sleep in on vacation!’
We all got dressed, and were standing at Line Call an hour later. Then we marched to breakfast. It turned out we sang our Morning Grace:
“For warming sunshine, for nourishing rain.
Dear Lord for Thy goodness we thank Thee.
For food and Thy care, rich blessings we share,
From Thy loving hand Lord, we thank Thee.
We thank Thee, O Lord.”
Singing that beautiful song put me in a much better mood. It didn’t matter that breakfast was lousy; dry pancakes with half-cooked scrambled eggs.
After breakfast, we headed back to the cabins to clean them. We made our bunks, put away our things, and swept the floor. “While we’re at Worship and Morning Activity, some counselors are going to inspect all the cabins,” Cathy told us. “They will hang a wooden flag over the doors. Blue means we did a good job, red means we need improvement, and white means we did poorly.”
After cleaning the cabin, we headed off to Morning Worship, which was in a different bowl from the one where we had Evening Campfire. We sang a bunch of Christian songs, and Christine Jacobs told us the story of Jacob and Esau, stating how unfortunate it was that their relationship was so riddled with conflict, even though they were twins.
After that came Morning Activity, which was the class we chose. Art class met in a huge garage, and our teacher turned out to be a tall, thin, blond guy named Dan. “Where’s Marsha?” I asked, disappointed.
“She doesn’t teach art,” Dan told me. “She teaches swimming instead. It’s one thing to be a really good artist, but quite another to teach it. She’s much better at teaching swimming.
“Today, we’re going to work on sketching trees,” he told us. I was very pleased, since I had a hard time drawing those. He took us into the woods and pointed out the different variety of pine trees. Though there are pine trees in Oakland, I’d never really noticed the different types.
“You can tell by the bark, and the length of the needles,” Dan explained. “This is a red fir, and this is a white fir. Notice the bark here is reddish, and this bark is a little whitish. This is a sugar pine; notice the long, narrow cones. And this is a Jeffrey pine, the bark looks like a jigsaw puzzle, and it smells like vanilla.” I was especially fascinated by Jeffrey Pines. One boy drew an intricate picture of its bark. I didn’t have the patience to do that, so I just sketched trees and rocks in the forest. Dan looked over my shoulder. “You’re fast,” he commented.
“Really?” I didn’t know whether or not that was a compliment.
“Try taking your time. You’ll do better work that way. The great masters took months to complete their drawings and paintings.”
So it wasn’t a compliment. Grudgingly, I decided to be more patient and detail-oriented next time. Apparently, that’s what it took to become an artist.
When we got back from Morning Activity, we saw a red flag hanging outside our cabin. Wendy turned angrily to me. “You ruined it for us!”
“How did I do that?” I asked, puzzled.
“Your bunk’s messy!”
“I straightened it the best I could. It’s hard to make a top bunk.”
Cathy said, “Now, both of you calm down. We haven’t even been inside yet, to see what’s wrong.” We entered the cabin, and discovered it was Wendy’s bunk that was messy, not mine. “You messed up my bunk!” Wendy snapped at me.
“I did not!”
“Wendy, that’s the second unfounded accusation you’ve made,” Cathy told her. “You owe Raven an apology. You will also have to do her dishes at lunch.”
Wendy growled a sullen apology.
I felt surprised that Cathy stood up for me. At school, the teachers usually either ignored such behavior, or took the side of the bully. I thought about the story of Esau and Jacob that had been this morning’s Worship lesson. Though Jacob was second-born, God had promised him the birthright, then he wound up getting it through cheating Esau. In spite of all that, he still came out ahead. ‘No doubt Wendy will find a way to turn Cathy against me,’ I thought.
“It’s time for Rotating Activity,” Cathy told us. “Let’s go to the stables.”
Had I heard right? “Uh – the stables?”
“Yes. We’re going horseback riding.”
I was horrified. Here I had deliberately passed up Horsemanship class, but would have to ride a horse, anyway! I caught Wendy looking at me, and turned away so she wouldn’t see the expression on my face.
Cathy led us to the stables, which were beyond the Art garage. Once in the corral, I gazed in terror at the long line of enormous beasts stamping their feet and swishing mile-long tails, which would have been very painful to be hit with. Eagerly, all the girls ran along the stalls. “Hurry up!” Cathy told me, then she gave me a really funny look. “You’re not afraid, are you?”
“Y - yes. I’ve never seen a horse before,” I admitted quietly.
Cathy was stunned. “How old are you?”
“And this is your first time seeing a horse?”
“Well, I’ve seen them on TV lots of times. Just never in real life. There are no ranches in Oakland.”
Cathy laughed. “Most girls your age are crazy about horses. We’re just going to walk them up the trail.”
I chose Inky, the smallest horse. True to his name, he was solid black, except for a white star on his forehead. While the other girls mounted, I stood there. Frank, the stable manager, came over. “What’s the matter? Never ridden before?”
“No I haven’t,” I answered.
“You mount from the left side. Put your left foot in the stirrup.” I lifted my leg as high as I could, and used my hand to push my foot in. “That stirrup is too short”, said Frank. “I’ll adjust it after you mount. Now, hold the saddle horn and reins with your left hand.” Clumsily, I did this. “Grab the back of the saddle with your right.” I did that.” “Now, jump and swing your right leg over.”
I was amazed at how easy this was. Sitting on top of the horse wasn’t scary at all! But then Frank adjusted the stirrups so I could barely reach them, and I got nervous all over again.
This feeling increased when Frank gave us a slew of directions: “Walk your horses, do not run them.” (I had no problem there.) “Hold the reins only, not the saddle horn. To make it stop, pull back on the reins, but not too hard, or you will injure its mouth. Do not let the horses eat. Don’t let the horses get too close together or too far apart. Never stand or walk behind a horse so close that it can kick you. Don’t put on or take off jackets while riding; this can spook the horses. Don’t make any sudden movements or loud noises, for the same reason. If the horse rolls or falls, dismount from the opposite side. If it bucks, don’t look at the ground; look between its ears and hold tight with your legs, and pull the reins towards one leg. If that doesn’t work, dismount the horse.” I was ready to dismount right there!
We were led in a straight line up the Ralston Trail. Just my luck, Wendy was right in front of me. “Quit riding so close!” she snapped.
“I’m not riding close.”
“Yes you are! If you don’t back up, I’m taking off my jacket to spook your horse.”
“You’re not wearing a jacket.” Several girls laughed.
Wendy sputtered, then said, “I can see you’ve never ridden a horse before. You don’t even know how to make it back off, do you?”
I remembered hearing her brag about owning a horse and being in shows the day before, and wondered why she would be so nervous, even if I was riding close. “I know you’re supposed to face forward when you ride,” I said, taking on her typical sneer.
“Ooh!” exclaimed the girls.
Cathy rode over. “Raven, why don’t you come to the front.”
Wendy smirked as Cathy led me away. ‘Things are going right back to normal,’ I groaned inwardly. ‘I should have known it was only a matter of time before Cathy took Wendy’s side.’
We rode to Lower Inspiration Point, from which we were treated to the most stunning view. Frank named the various features: Pyramid Peak, Horsetail Falls, and the former Sierra Ski Ranch. To our left was a dramatic cliff. “That’s Lover’s Leap,” Frank told us. “They call it this because long ago, an Indian prince and princess from opposing tribes wanted to marry. Their parents refused to let it happen, so they blindfolded their horses and rode off the 600 foot cliff.”
I thought to myself, ‘I’d be the one who had to be blindfolded, and even then, I don’t think I could do it!’
We rode the horses back to the stables. Though horses still frightened me, I began to think I could develop an interest in them. Many of the fairy tales and adventure stories I read had people riding horses; maybe by getting into horseback riding, I could live a little like them.
At lunch, Wendy started to snatch away my tray before I’d finished eating, but Cathy made her wait until I’d left the Lodge before she washed it.
The next two days passed with no serious incidents. Every morning in Art class, we did something different. Oil was my favorite painting medium; with water color, you couldn’t cover your mistakes, and acrylic was very messy. I LOVED doing glorified glass. We laid a pane over a drawing, and traced it with a black ink pen. Then we colored in the drawing with clear paints of our choice. Once it was dry, we backed it with wrinkled foil. I made one of red roses, and another of a lady in a hoop skirt.
Wednesday night, long after “Taps” was played, I awoke to see the full moon streaming through the forest into the window. I had to go to the bathroom, so I put on my bathrobe, stepped into slippers, and headed for the building. On my way back, who should I meet but Wendy.
“That Cathy’s so mean, isn’t she?” she said.
“Uh – I don’t think she’s mean,” I answered, surprised she was attacking someone else, for once.
“You should have seen her when I was washing dishes at lunch the other day. She was breathing down my neck! It’s like nothing I do is good enough for her!”
“Really?” I didn’t know what to make of this.
“She hasn’t been very nice to you, either. Making you get on that tiny little horse!”
“Uh – actually, I wanted to ride that one…”
“Let’s go over there, so she won’t hear us.” She pointed to a log that was far away.
I went over and sat with her on the log. “Cathy just has a cold personality,” Wendy complained. “All the other counselors are much nicer, haven’t you noticed?”
“Well – uh…” I had no idea what to say.
Wendy kept rambling on, complaining about Cathy, until we saw a flashlight in the distance. Then she dropped her voice to a whisper; “Uh oh, we’d better go back to the cabin. Someone might see us.” We headed back, and I spent the rest of the night sleepless in my bunk. Why would Wendy make such comments about Cathy to me? It was almost like she was trying to befriend me or something – but what a way to do it!
Did Wendy prove to be a good friend to Raven? Did Counselor Cathy find out what was discussed behind her back? To find out, please visit this link:
Wendy, the urban cowgirl. If she was going to keep looking back to criticize me, why didn't she just mount the horse backwards in the first place? ~ RQ
© 2012 Yoleen Lucas