Smiling Anyway

Me and Momma, having fun at Coyote Creek

Dear Liza,

My first reaction to “shelter in place to slow the spread of the corona virus” was mature and calm. NONONONONO! YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!

Grandpa Lowell, Phil Conway and Stella

But then, in my mind, I saw my Momma smiling at me. This woman was the dictionary definition of adaptable. She camped out, every weekend, with three children, in sun and rain and wind, and often, no toilets or running water.

My Dad, Lowell, was the outdoorsy type. With a 9 by 12 canvas tent, a camping box packed with cast iron pans and melamine plates, and a Coleman stove, he led us to make a new home every weekend in the forests and deserts of California.

Baby me, Grandpa Lowell and Grandma Billie
Dinner’s here!

We were a working class family, with not much money for vacations. Besides, Dad said, camping built character. It was good for kids to get out of town and run, hike, and fish. It was good to ‘figure things out’ when things went wrong.

And he was right. My brothers and I grew in ways that are hard to measure. We figured out how to create a shower stall from Tupperware and canvas, or make a beer cooler in the river.

Full disclosure: There were some snafus. I jumped into a bunch of nettles, barefoot, and had to be carried home. Brother Tim caught his ear with a fish hook while learning to fly fish. Brother Jim rebelled and stayed in the tent for a whole long weekend, reading MAD magazine. But it all worked out eventually.

Her first fish ever, caught on her honeymoon. Smiling anyway.

Momma was not originally in favor of this situation, but long before I was born, the subject had been settled. She negotiated with Dad that, since she did all the cooking at home, HE should be the ‘chef du foret’. This gave her time off from the chore, which is much harder outdoors, and let her feel more positively about the adventures. She was able to make it work.

So, when we were told, this week, the opposite of Dad’s mandate, NOT to go outdoors, NOT to be adventurous, it stumped me for a minute. But Momma’s willingness to make the best of a situation, to be flexible and smile anyway, will carry me through.

I will study French, write my story, play Scrabble, pet cats, make cookies, and smile anyway.

Happy Sheltering in Place!


Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

2 thoughts on “Smiling Anyway”

  1. Hi Judy,  This story sure reminded me of my childhood!  We did the same thing.  Camping was a big thing for my dad too.  Of course I can’t tell a story anywhere near as good as you can.  Finding the perfect old pictures too!  So I’m inspired to write you back and thank you for refreshing my memory.  Below is a picture of mom with Lenard known “as the Doc” their best friend.  I’m sure Dad’s taking the picture.  Looks like they are in the redwood forest.  Thanks, Elaine 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone


    1. Elaine,
      I love that you read and enjoy my blog. These weird times have us all leaning a little more on our distance-friends, and I am so grateful we have stayed in touch. Love you much.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: