We lived in a country house on several acres of land, and there was a marsh pond towards the back of the property. A couple came to visit us from the city, and I took them back to show them the pond. It was late September and cool. It was early in the evening, but it was already dark. There were tall cattails and weeds on either side of the path that led down to the shore of the pond. The ground was soft and wet there and my shoes made deep prints in the mud. We could hear the bugs in the tall weeds and the frogs out on the pond. It was a clear night and the golden moon was just above the water with a bright star beside it, its light flickering off the pond.
As I reached the edge of the water, I turned back to say something to the couple that had followed me, but I found now that there was a whole crowd behind me, families with tents and RVs setting up barbecues, their kids lingering about or running along the shore or hiding from each other in the cattails. They all worked through the night, establishing their camps. There was the soft ting of hammers driving tent stakes into the ground. People shivered in light jackets, and flashlight beams played about in the sharp morning air. Someone set up a covered pavilion with picnic tables beneath it and we all gathered there for breakfast as the sun rose over the tall weeds. Some of the kids went out to swim in the pond first thing in the morning and someone put a tin pot over a campfire to make coffee.
More and more people arrived as the day wore on. They came in trucks and campers, setting up tents on the outskirts of the growing camp. The day was warm for being so late in the season. By the late afternoon, the kids had gotten drowsy and there were only a few of them floating lazily out in the pond. Their parents called them up for dinner under the pavilion as the setting sun glared low over the water. After dinner, someone made one last pot of coffee as the sun dipped below the horizon and the evening grew cooler. It got harder to see each other’s faces as it grew dark, and people started turning in for the night, climbing into their tents and campers to sleep. Some of the smaller kids cried, because they were tired or they didn’t want the day to end or both. Their parents hushed them and the hush fell over the whole camp and the bugs and the frogs took up their song again. I took a folding lawn chair down to the edge of the water and planted its legs there in the mud, and I sat down to finish my coffee and stare out at the crescent moon over the pond.