It’s that time of year when I start mapping out my summer “adventures,” you know, the hikes, the lakes, the cave, the camping. . . oh yes, the camping.
It seems that in most marriages, there is one spouse who loves camping and one who just doesn’t get it. “Why would you choose to sleep in the dirt?” In our house, my DH is the latter. Last week he showed me a You Tube video featuring a kindred spirit, Jim Gaffigan, who points out the inconveniences and dangers of camping, including bears. He tells of a pamphlet that said if he met a bear, to “play dead.” “Really? We’re going to rely on my acting skills?” He asks, “Play dead? Who came up with that? The bears?”
For me, I anticipate the fresh air, the solitude, the smell of pine trees, the stars and crickets and a rumbling stream or isolated mountain lake. And a campfire. Who can’t love a fire dancing over logs and sending sparks up to meet the lights above? Campfires give food that delicious roasted flavor. They take the chill off a cool backside, set the mood for songs and stories, and I get to repeat for the millionth time when my daughter gets downwind of the smoke, “Smoke follows beauty.” Wait for it. “But Beauty was a horse.”
My DH points out that we can have fresh air at home—just open the window. (I’m convinced this isn’t really his motive—he’d rather not run the AC all night. But his frugality works with my need to breathe.) So we open the window, and I am met with one neighbor’s garage lights (search lights) shining across the street, the distance of two houses and onto my pillow. That that house belongs to my ecclesiastic leader leaves me a bit uncomfortable. There’s no getting away from those all-seeing lights.
Another neighbor enjoys occasional late parties on his deck that is as high as a ranger tower. Those nights we close the window and muddle through. However, he does have a dog that howls rather than barks and that adds to the illusion of being in nature. But mostly we hear the steady roar of another neighbor’s air conditioner. Yep, I’m satisfied now.
We had been married ten years when I began to realize that we were just not camping as often as I had imagined we would. I confronted my husband, “Do you know what one of my most favorite things to do is? Camping.” He looked at me like he couldn’t believe what he had married.
We began to obtain camping gear. And we went a couple of times with the children. I went a couple of times with the young women in our church. And twice we camped at Lake Powell. I think somebody was trying to make a point. I told him camping on a public beach that is as crowded as a park on the 4th of July didn’t count. There were no trees, no solitude, no rumbling creek. There was a perpetual line at the restroom, and the noise of vehicles coming in at 2 a.m. and getting stuck in the sand. However, my son swears a coyote walked across his bag—he and a friend were outside the tent. (I pretend it was a coyote, but I’m pretty sure it was somebody’s dog.) Like I said, I don’t count those times.
One Christmas my DH made the ultimate sacrifice and gave me a tent. And over the years, we have used it—at least three times (twice at Lake Powell). Which is better than the fancy camp stove we have never used. We also have twenty-year-old back packs with the tags still on them, cold weather sleeping bags (that we used once in October), Dutch ovens (that I used with girl’s camp), the essential folding shovel, and a fresh “luggable loo.”
But this August, my DH is going to find himself sleeping in a tent. And I’ll be in bliss with the stars overhead, the fresh breezes, the crickets, the smell of pine trees, the rumbling creek, and the campfire. A week later, I’ll still be breathing my smoke filled clothes before I finally let go and launder them. And though it will be just one night, and in a public campground with modern toilets, I’ll let it count for another five years.
But then again, maybe, Not!
Oh, what we suffer for our sanity. . .All for a starry night. Cue Don McLean.