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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ground Cover and Lantern Light

I have no one to blame but myself.

"Let's go right now!" Scott exclaimed, when he opened his Father's Day gift a day early. It was a 3-person tent, for family vacations. We all love camping... most of the time.

"Sure!" I answered, brightly, faking enthusiasm. I'd spent the night on a pallet beside Emerson's bed, and although it was only noon, I was already looking forward to our queen-sized dream catcher. I also didn't think he would really go through with it.

EHHH! Wrong! Tell the little lady what her consolation prize is!

Sweat and mosquito bites, that's what!

We had a family dinner planned, so we didn't even get to the campsite until after sunset. We set up camp by headlight. We forgot water. An owl on the hunt almost took my head off (time for a hair cut, maybe?). A skunk had marked nearby territory sometime in the past 24 hours. Our site was 280 miles from the bathrooms, and I had a mild stomach bug.

But we were right by the lake. Walking distance to the swimming beach. The site had a water spigot, and we had empty water bottles in our cars. Emmie was happy to run all over the site looking for stuff to burn in the campfire. We could see more constellations than we could name in the sky.

"What planet is that?" Scott pointed.

"Planet Delta," I joked. "It's ready when you are."


"I dunno. Venus, I'd guess. But it could be a star. The dog star? Isn't it seen in summer all crazy bright?"

"It is!" Emmie exclaimed. "It is the dog star! I can see her three puppies!"

And that was when I started to have fun. I could see the brightness in Scott's eyes, the way he moved around the camp with purpose. I saw him breathe deep of the night air, and lookin' all satisfied with himself. My irritation melted. I'd been faking it – quite successfully – until then, but the two of them together were hilarious! Scott trying to teach Em about nature, + Em arguing "But I already know dat" about almost everything. (I mean, it's incredible how much astronomy they covered in Pre-K this year. Bravo to Ms. Bray and Ms. Colbert. ;-D) He’d try to coax her closer to the water, and she’d complain of sharks, and run off to collect more stuff to burn in the campfire. While he wasn’t looking, she gently lobbed a few pine cones at his behind, and giggled to herself.

Of course, it IS June. It wasn’t long until we started peeling off clothes. In fact, I took Emmie to the final bathroom run of the night in just her pull-up – no shirt, no shoes, no problem. She was totally cool with it.

“Hi, der!” she waved cheerfully, as we passed a senior waiting for her spouse on a bench outside the community bathrooms. The lady chuckled and waved back.

And though I brought sleeping clothes, we ended up in just our underwear in the tent… for a while. It got so obnoxious in there, with Scott and Emmie kicking me in the head all night (I mean, really, did I marry the Tasmanian Devil and give birth to his ninja spawn?) that about 3 a.m. I gave up and went to sleep in my car.

But it was worth it to watch the sunrise over the lake, and to be the only ones on the swimming beach for hours that morning. Emmie practiced her swimming, fish bit us on the legs (why do they do that?), we played sea monster, and picked up “sheshells,” as Em called them. It was a beautiful overnight experience – and almost worth the backache I had the next day.

 Just a stupid Blackberry camera shot, but you get the idea.


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