Happy Campers

This post is about how an ordinary evening in the woods made me realize why I need to stop and smell the roses.

After what seemed like forever trip to bad weather land, we finally got some sunshine. We decided to make the most of what seemed the last possible good weather weekend. After stuffing the cooper like a turkey, we headed out late afternoon to Ray Roberts State Park. We found a campsite way, way, way at the back. Thanks to dada the city slicks had to lug camping gear, food, and babies all the way to the other end of the campsite. So with lots of grumbling and mumbling we were afoot. Fearless Freddy a.k.a Neil (that’s what we called him at the end of this trip) was camping for the first time at 22 months. We were making snail pace progress. For every two steps he took, he’d stop for a 20. He had to wave at fellow campers, pat the dogs, pick up twigs, throw some sand, and finally when it started feeling like eternity, we picked him and walked. Therefore, we made it before sundown.

The first job at hand was to setup base and then get the fire going. The fall chill that warms up during the day was slowly giving way to an even chillier evening. Dada got the fire going but a small bag of coal wasn’t going to last all evening long. Our supply of coal for the barbecue was beginning to dwindle, so we had to make quick amends. I dragged Neil away from the pit and we went off to rummage for some firewood. Having learned how to distinguish between Maple and Mesquite trees, I was determined to find the fallen chunks of dried wood to keep the flames going. I felt like a pioneer woman rummaging for firewood. We were so busy trying to pick out the right kind of wood that we almost missed the beauty of it all. A small streak of sunlight caught the corner of my falling hair, and bounced gently off of my face. As if to remind me of the true reason for our visit here. That’s when I looked up and realized how beautiful it was. The sun was beginning to set and that ephemeral glow of evening light began to bounce off of the water. Shades of yellow, gold, and red cast themselves on everything around; even on little Neil. The fall hues of astounding maroons, auburn, gold, and arresting yellows were further accentuated against this light. It was heavenly. Life seemed to float on this fall evening forever.

This was Fearless Freddy’s (a.k.a Neil) first camping trip. We know how much he loves hanging outdoors. He really is an earth child. He was all squeals about how we were setting up the tent. He didn’t know what was coming next of course, and we didn’t think he’d enjoy it so darn much. After taking in the sunshine and playing crunch on leaves, mama and son walked back to campsite with firewood in hand. While dada got the grub going, mama and son kept the fire going. Once he figured dried leaves crackled in the fire, there was no stopping him. He kept picking up those maple leaves with his tiny little hands and dropping them in. Each time he did it, our hearts would stop beating. Lock, stock, and smocking grill, we had our beef, roasted corn, and spicy shrimp to munch on. We had to zip ourselves in to the tent because there was no other way to keep Fearless Freddy inside. On dada’s suggestion he lay on mama’s lap and watched the fading sky through the opening in the roof. There was something in that moment…I can’t quite explain it. Watching him watch those tall trees and the three of us looking at each other enjoying that moment was the stuff of poetry.

It was a quiet acknowledgment of the blessings in life.


3 thoughts on “Happy Campers

  1. I sense all the excitement with your words! I can imagine how wonderful it must have been in that moment 🙂 Hold tight and know you are truly blessed – these are moments some of us can only dream of 🙂

  2. It was nice to revisit those blissful & glorious moments again! Not to forget the mommy- moments of rinsing his cute lil’ muddy shoes on the banks of the oh-so-sparkling river 🙂 Thanks for writing this, it was as refreshing to read as it was to experience!!! Good times to follow….keep writing!

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