On the subject of summer camps allow me to sing my experience in Boy Scout camp in the deep forests of the Adirondack Mountains of New York State—long years ago but still fresh in my memory, for not only did we do the usual Scoutish things like build triangular campfires from beech logs and whittle arrows and race rickety canoes, but we also stole a camp truck filled with cakes and pies for the other troops’ dessert, and slipped out of camp to an amazing nearby diner, and found the rusted shards of what one member of our patrol later ascertained to be a Maschinenpistole used by the Nazi Fallschirmjäger, or paratroopers, in the Second World War.

After all those years we found that scatter of rusted brooding shards of metal in moist shivering ground at the edge of a spruce swamp. I wonder how it got from the war over there to the forest here, and who carried it from one haunted wood to another, and why it was smashed to pieces apparently with a ball-peen hammer, and how long it had been moldering there in the swamp, and what had happened to the man or woman or child who smashed it to bits, and who would have eventually discovered it a century or a millennium later, a curious child or an archaeology team, and what they would have thought it to be—a shattered religious object, a broken toy, an instrument for some unimaginable music?

If this was a sensible and reasonable essay I would now explain the theft of the dessert truck, and how we waylaid the driver, a star Scout, and borrowed the truck long enough to heroically deliver 40 cakes and pies to our camp, and then returned the truck to the spot where he had left it when he courageously leapt to the aid of ostensibly injured fellow Scouts; and I would briefly and entertainingly report how we plotted a journey through the moonless swamp to the extraordinary diner where the special was roast turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy; and I might mention odd and riveting moments like the time a boy in my patrol fired a whittled arrow at a hawk, and the hawk spun in the air like a dancer and dove on the boy, who I believe would have lost an ear had he not himself dove into a tent; but no, I return to the Maschinenpistole, for several reasons.