Miss Grace

We’ve made three trips to the camp nurse in the last 24 hours. Her name’s Miss Grace. Someone is going to have to make her a character in a short story. She’d be the hero — the woman who can cure any ill.

I went first. Last night after dinner I walked into the little store they have at camp, the place where you can get ice cream, ping pong balls and t-shirts. Miss Grace was in there, wearing her nurse shirt, which is a light blue tunic with pictures of the faces of happy children on it. She was showing the people who worked in the store a picture of her family and giving them their mail. I looked down and realized the rash I’ve had on my leg for four months (a little patch of what could be poison oak, except it’s not) wasn’t going to get any better from my ignoring it. So, I asked Miss Grace if she would look at it.

Best thing I’ve done in a long time. Her office is air conditioned. She is in her fifties, a woman with a soft southern accent. She showed me a picture of her two brothers and sisters, taken to commemorate her brother’s induction in to the football home of fame in Jackson Mississippi. The first black man to be given that honor, she said. And they’d also named the football field after him. She and her sisters look exactly alike. The same gentle faces, lovely accepting eyes. Her other brother is a minister in a church in Oakland. She put aloe vera (pure, organic aloe vera ointment called Desert Lily) on my rash. I know it will be better.

Maybe because they envied my experience with Miss Grace, but today, one of my sons got a bee sting for Miss Grace to care for. And about two hours later, another of them slipped in the dining hall and had to be cured of a gash behind his ear. Bee sting ointment, blueberry flavored advil, a bandaid with some kind of superhero on it, antibiotic ointment and aloe. An ice pack. Air conditioning. Miss Grace could cure pretty much anything with her voice — but with those other tools, she’s invincible. She would know what to do about Lebanon, I’m pretty sure.

We’ve decided we love Feather River Camp — even if we don’t like the mosquitoes and it is too hot here. We still love it. Next year we’re coming back for two weeks.

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12 thoughts on “Miss Grace

  1. I love the sound of her! She has what you might call a natural novelistic dimension, like a ready made character. Do you think she’d do consultations over the internet? Hmmm, but I think you’re telling me that it’s the experience of her that’s the cure. So glad to know you are having a lovely time, and pleased that you are managing to post! I’m going away in a couple of weeks and feeling withdrawl symptoms already for the blog…

  2. I am so thrilled this vacation is surpassing your expectations – you really deserve this time. It sounds wonderful! And Miss Grace sounds like a very calming presense. Courtney

  3. Hi BL,
    Apologies in advance for taking up your space with a poem of mine but it occurred to me that you might be meeting and writing in the same place a previous class (4 years ago) met along Spanish Creek at Art Camp and that you might check to see if the tree and log in the poem below are still there. Maybe by now your eyes have to be wide shut to see them. Or ask Miss Grace. I hope you are meeting your word goals. Smokey

    PROCRASTINATION AT ALLIGATOR CREEK

    Before we hike down
    this embankment
    to the creek
    and write about
    the partially submerged log
    with that alligator look—
    that hot lazy summer
    I can already taste
    my frog and snake lunch
    look
    that wet dark bark gnarly back
    look
    that pair of humped up knotty two eyes
    look—

    before that, let’s run our pencils
    through the dead branches
    on this unkempt Douglas fir
    drooping to the ground like hair,
    dry messy brittle hair—hair
    with birds’ nests and knots snarly hair.

    What to do with this hairy tree?
    Let’s get a ladder and hose,
    shower it down, shampoo,
    and condition it, I suppose.
    Run a comb straight through it
    as it drips, drips, drips on its toes.
    A trim and blow dry, so we can lie under it
    and watch where the alligator goes.

  4. Hello all — It’s been a nice time. A small writing group meets in the morning and talks about how things are going with the writing — in the place Mr. S. so beautifully describes — and then it’s off to Quincy for caffeine and novel. The boys went rock hounding yesterday with their dad and a friend. They brought home lovely crystals. We’ll have to be sure to leave one of the nicest for Miss Grace.

  5. Say Smokey, I’m currently collecting poetry about trees for a couple of book projects, and “PROCRASTINATION AT ALLIGATOR CREEK” meets with one of the chapters perfectly!

    Would you permit me to add it to the collection under consideration for inclusion in either of the two upcoming books? We would request permission before including it in the book for publication.

    Feel free to contact me by email if you are interested and would like to know more about the projects. If not, no worries. 🙂

    Many thanks,
    JLB

  6. Thank you for considering my poem. It sounds fine to use it. Please let me know about this book. Will it be called Our Boreal Friends? I have a somewhat salacious (from the Latin–fond of leaping–I just learned when checking the spelling) poem about women shopping for trees at the Berkeley (or any liberal suburban) nursery. This book project sounds ambitious. Are you sure you can swing that in addition to obtaining all of the boxes of discarded recipes from middle America and taking and posting the many pictures of everything in front of you?, and, and, and? I’m sure you can. I’m just impressed.

  7. Hello Smokey!

    I’m the one interested in your poem, and I would love to read the other you suggested. Please write to me at the email address below so that I can tell you a little more about the project, and so that we have a way to keep in touch should your poem be selected for inclusion.

    jadeblackwater(at)brainripples(dot)com

    to use the email address, just replace (at) with @ and (dot) with .

    Many thanks,
    Jade
    http://brainripples.wordpress.com

  8. JLB
    Sorry for that misread of your blog name. Not sure how my brain got BL from JLB, but stranger things happen in the brain. I will email.
    Thanks, Smokey

  9. No worries – they are rather similar, after all 😉 Thanks for writing, and BlogLily, sorry to have usurped your comments space! 😀

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