Last night at twilight I walked alone down my street to a party wearing scarf, hat and gloves carrying a screw-top bottle of red wine. Golden light flowed from neighbors’ shuttered windows like burning embers. The sky glowed shades of violet fading to a luminous yellow strip that peeked behind tall silhouettes of blackened pines. The scent of burning wood filled my nostrils. It reminded me of camping.

I used to do a lot of camping. As a kid, my family hauled our trailer hours on winding roads that lead to the coast where my dad took us clamming and berry picking. At night, over a campfire, we roasted marshmallows and blobs of sticky biscuit dough at the end of saplings. In high school and college my friends and I slept under starry black skies on the banks of Lake Chelan, water skiing in the clear frigid water for days on end, drinking beer from cans and eating hot dogs and chips.

My husband Michael loves camping, too. From our homes in San Francisco the two of us used to cram a car full of supplies; stove, coffee, pans, cups, plates, matches, condiments, tent, tarp, sleeping bags. We explored places like The Sierras, Big Sur, The Snake River, Glacier National Park, and Crater Lake. Exciting thunderous storms cracked and pelted us with rain and hail then heat waves parched our throats. On a couple of cross-country trips we nestled up to the shores of the Ogallala Reservoir in Nebraska, spent chilly nights in the thin air of the Colorado Rockies, ate Fish Boil in Door County Wisconsin and swam in the mild waters of the Adirondack Lakes in upstate New York.

During our first few years in Maine we took my Jeep Wrangler off road deep into wooded land, down dry, craggy riverbeds and set up camp by lakes laced with nothing but boulders and tall trees. At night loons called over water as black and still as any you can imagine. Mosquitoes and black flies devoured us under clusters of white pines along the bank of the Mattawamkeag River.

It’s been over seven years since we’ve gone tent camping—since Calvin was born. We thought it might be possible once he got a little older, but then he was diagnosed with epilepsy. We couldn’t risk being in a remote area in case he needed emergency care, which he did often during those first few years. I miss camping terribly. It’s been one of the great joys in my life, a favorite pass time unlike no other, the clean air and aqua-green vistas lifting my spirits. I’d like to take Calvin camping with us some day and sit on stumps around a bonfire watching amber shadows flicker across each others hot faces, the cold night air at our backs.

photo by Michael Kolster

1 comment:

  1. Your writing gives me goose bumps...that's when I know it's good. Don't stop, Christy. Don't ever stop.