Monday, September 07, 2009

The Rugged Outdoor Life for Us

I went outdoors last night to shake off a tablecloth and found that the weather had cooled down considerably since the afternoon. There was a steady breeze and a bright moon, and it reminded me of summer nights when I was a kid. Sometimes when relatives would be over visiting, my sisters and our cousins and I would head outside to play hide-and-seek late at night. The yard would be lit by the moon, but the trees surrounding the yard were pitch-black and eerie from the sound of the wind moving through the branches and leaves. I'd find a hiding spot in the trees and sit quietly, enjoying the coolness of the wind, the blanket of darkness, and the sounds of the night . . . as I waited to be discovered either by the person who was "it" or by our pet dog, Happy, who would invariable give away everybody's hiding spot as soon as she found each hider and started barking and licking and making a fuss.

Sorry for that aside; that all came rushing back as I stood on the veranda last night. When I came back inside, I mentioned to Hillary--who was marching up the stairs heading to her bed for the night--that it would be a good night for camping out. In seconds she had returned from her bedroom with her pillow, blankie, stuffed animal, and sleeping bag in tow. Her sisters were game, too, so we gathered our stuff and went outside to sleep beneath the stars.

Except that our idea of "camping out" is spreading a quilt on the veranda, laying our sleeping bags out next to the patio door, and sleeping there within inches of the door and just a few steps away from a bathroom. The last time we did this, the nighttime weather became so frigid in the early morning hours that we had to head indoors. Not last night, though. The breeze was cool, but we were nice and cozy inside our sleeping bags. The moon was so bright that it took awhile to get to sleep! The wind chimes, too, played their music loudly and steadily throughout the night, but that became a restful background noise that blocked out the other sounds of the city.

Now when we hear friends' and coworkers' tales of their Labor Day weekend camping trips, we can contribute to the conversation with our own tales of roughing it. We just didn't have to fuss with putting up or taking down a tent, and it was only a matter of steps to a hot shower and a batch of freshly baked muffins. (Susan is not an outdoor sleeper. She was content to spend the night indoors in our bed and then to treat us with a hot breakfast.)

Daddy, Hillary, Abigail (with her head at the opposite end--that's our Abigail), and Suzanna