A Fire, A Rock, and a TeePee of Branches

We pulled into camp about 5 PM. Late, I know, for a weekend of building fires and sleeping on rocks. Four camp sites remained among the 80 or so available, and as we pulled into our chosen spot, we felt relieved to have a place to lay our heads.

The decision to do all our cooking over the fire was made unanimously. We could host meetings for pyromaniacs united or something, if such a group existed. Camp fires, blazing orange, coals pulsing, under the black of the city-less sky on a cool fall night are just a fingerprint from heaven in our world.

Too bad we forgot the camp chairs. (It’s better than when we went all the way to Yellowstone and forgot our hatchet and rain gear … ) But we made do with rocks, a milk crate, and the ice chest. Flexibility is the key to a good camping weekend we’ve found. Our son was going to make us a bench with stacked logs and branches, but the setting sun changed the plans.

We made campfire stew for supper, boiled vigorously over hot flames until the potatoes turned to molten white lava … and the poor raccoons didn’t get any. And of course we ate smores. Can’t go camping without marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate, after all.

Of course they’re another excuse to play in the fire … but hey … a girl’s gotta have a hobby.

My favorite part of camping by far, beyond the fire and the way food tastes so much better and listening to everyone breathing as we go to sleep in the tent, is watching the stars. We could even see the Milky Way, that faint cloud-like smear across the dark sky. I never tire of looking up into the abyss.

I’m not sure what draws my attention so keenly, the patterns, the movement, or maybe just the understanding of how small we really are … and yet how much we are loved.

In all of the universe, in all of those millions and billions of stars and potential planets and moons and suns, here we are alive and, as far as we know, alone. The only humans in existence.

The thought makes me stop and wonder, why us? Why here? What is so special about us?

And that one thought makes all the stuff in my life disappear in a moment. The neighbors, the overwhelming decisions, the failures, the successes, the competition, the striving to get it all right all the time that crowd my life day in and day out … They all seem to miraculously shrink into the packages they came in and slide onto the proper shelf. I can breathe again. I can think.

I can just stop.

I suppose this is why people drink or use drugs or do any of those things that make them addicts … so they can feel like they can just stop, that the world will just quit spinning so fast.

The stars are my drug of choice. I guess I’m lucky to have them. Lucky that I can look up and my mind will shut off and I can just be mesmerized by something outside of myself.

Now if someone will just make an air mattress that will stay inflated all night long so I don’t end up with rocks jabbing me in the ribs and hips before morning, I might never leave the camp ground.

Then again, wifi is a thing …



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