Saturday, June 22, 2013

My Darling Mandy Pansy...

(For those of you who don't know, Mandy is my best friend from the college years.  Though separated by miles and family and responsibilities, we retain our friendship strictly through posted mail....something of an anomaly these days I suppose.  Such a friendship, free from technology, I cherish deeply.  And thus, my seven page letter to her this week... )

June 18th, 4:30pm

The art of packing everything one might possibly need for the next four days into a vehicle along with a carsick prone dog--this is a miracle of mighty proportions.  Success of such a venture is totally dependant upon a single thing...the List.  Composed days ahead, amended, re-written and edited--this list includes the food, the misc crap we cannot live without, the bandaides and sunburn aloe (both of which are certain to be needed with this crew) emergency inhalers, mountain pie makers, and the percolator coffee pot, of course.  It details what must be done before we leave (water the plants, arrange mail pick-up with the neighbors, lock the windows...) and who needs to be told. (which happens to be few as we do not announce our departures from the civilized world--might as well give a timetable to be robbed)

Stacked, stashed, crammed and shoved--we left by eleven.  Tubs topped with inner tubes perched over tents and fishing poles, immaculately organized and strapped down to withstand Dorothy's own tornado--but still reminiscent of the Clampets, none the less.  Two and a half hours later we undo it all and set up residence beneath the trees, ever so Grizzly Adams, I feel.  Three tents, (one for us, one for the boys, and the "stuff tent" for all the clothes--sleeping is much more enjoyable if the soggy socks are in another tent, yes?) a canopy over the chef's table holding the stove and coolers and cookery, five chairs, the tripod grilling system for the firepit and a mountain of wood to burn.  It's a sprawling spread of canvas and velcro, lines and stakes pounded into the ground, an instant homestead indeed. 

Jase has left for groceries and I must return to the organizing of bedding and delegation of dog duty.  Already I can feel the magic that is a roof of blue sky and branches, that hush that steals quietly into your soul and reminds you that we are more than plastic and glitter...and sometimes leaving all of that behind is very, very good for us. 

Love you.


I write by the light of the fire and the ring of tiki torches that surround the camp, lit as the sun sets.  The boys are chattering in their tent, s'mores consumed, chocolate smeared faces, slightly sticky hugs goodnight.  I'm watching the fireflies dance in the woods.  Like a magic game of fairy tag, they swirl through the darkness before me.  The sound of the trees in the wind, the hiss and pop of the fire...such peace. 

Goodnight, my dear.

June 19th, noonish....I don't have a clock.  *smile*

A lazy morning of slow cooked bacon and eggs, thick black coffee, slightly squashed Krispy Kreme donuts a surprise pulled from the coolers for breakfast.  The boys have left for the pond, cut up hotdog bait in their pockets (which works astoundingly well, I might add) and fishing poles clutched in eager hands.  My heart sings as I watch them skip down the path, their simple happiness so unattached to anything electric.

The crisp dawn has given way to a cloudless sky and the sun is warm on my bare shoulders as I write.  I think I packed four sundresses and something to sleep in--oh, how I love the freedom from clothing that summer brings!  Hazel is doing wonderfully well, adjusted to our new abode easily, and slept next to me the night through.  The local army of chipmunks has her jumping at shadows a bit, their antics remind me of a Loony Tunes cartoon...

I think I might nap.


Jason's parents are joining us for dinner tonight, it will be lovely to see them.  I've got chicken marinating and corn soaking in their husks in a pan of water, all to be cooked over the fire.  After catching numerous fish and newts and frogs, the boys are "starving" and hover about, recounting tales of the fish that "broke the hook" this afternoon. (lol)  The rum and wine are chilling, the flames are burning down to the coals desired for roasting this feast, and I see a car in the distance.  Such joy is the simplicity of just a meal....without a single other thing to be done before bed. 

June 20th, 3:30ish

This morning we learned that "there was a spider in our tent, that's why mommy screamed" no longer works with the boys.  Next year their tent will be further away from ours.  *ahem* 

The boys have left after lunch to pick up Jason's dad and inflate the spare inner tube - an afternoon splashing down the river had them nearly spinning with excitement.  Hazel and I have laid in the sun, slowly sipping a glass of wine and finishing the novel I brought with me.  (oh, note to self: before deciding it was fine to stretch out topless in the sun, check for random hikers....dear Lord above)

I revel in this forced laziness.  Here beneath the trees, there is no laundry to be done, no vacuuming or bills to pay, no e-mails to answer.  Just the birds and wind and hours that pass deliciously slow...

I'm not sure I want to go home.

10ish pm

Our last night. *sigh*  Each of the boys has come and asked if we could stay longer...I wish.  Tomorrow will be a whirlwind of packing and re-stashing, of ropes and ties and the gobbling of the last of the marshmallows and chocolate ("Go ahead and finish them off, one less thing to take home....")  One last trip to the pond, one last hot last meander through the woods breathing in the warm green air in deep lungfulls, as if I could take some of it home with me.

I must admit that my legs have acquired a smattering of bruises, the bones of my hips are sore from the lack of a mattress....and last night's raccoon chase to retrieve the bread left me with a sore foot.  I will be glad for a long hot shower, the lushness of lather and perfume....but I will dream of misty mornings and lazy nights for days to come. 

Kiss the littles for me darling Mandy, and say hello to handsome.  I hope your week was as full of sunshine and laughter as mine was.  We'll have to plan a trip together soon....


The only place I ever nap.


Shea Goff said...

Simply lovely.

Shelly said...

There is paradise on earth, and you, my friend, have certainly found it.

terlee said...

I haven't been camping for ages...thanks for taking me with you.

Stephanie @ Life, Unexpectedly said...

That is amazing, snail mail friends in those time and days. I have to admit, I still am so happy to receive posted mail from friends, which is usually a card from their vacation, but still.

Your vacation sounds so wonderful. Unfortunately, I'm too high maintenance for camping, but we might just rent a camper one day. I'd love to see the girls away from all the electronics and just enjoy the outside for a few days!

Chantel said...

Shea--it so was! xo

Shelly--it felt like it, for sure. :) So peaceful!

Terlee--my pleasure entirely!

Stephanie--oh, you should go! It is quite amazing what you can live without--even if you just put a tent in the backyard, it's magic falling asleep to the wind. :)

Brian Miller said...

the list making is my wife...
four days---that is one extra pair of shorts and 2 tshirts right? ha.

when the roof is the sky...its a great thing...and yeah that spider trick only lasts so long...hehe...

pretty cool you keep in touch through letters...not many even send them these days...

The Loerzels said...

Ok, I love your writing, I've told you this before. Your descriptions are so poetic. But, the spider screaming almost made me piss my pants!

Dee said...

Dear Chantel, your posting brought back so many good memories. For ten years, I camped for two weeks each September with a good friend. We camped at Penisula State Park in northern Wisconsin and several times at Gooseberry by Lake Superior in Minnesota. We also went to Bemiji and other states parks in Minnesota to camp. She whittled by the lake each day while I trekked the trails. Such wonderful days.

I'm glad that your days were also wonderfully peace-filled and yet filled with the excited chatter of boys who are catching big fish--that looks like at least a 3 or 4 pound bass! And ah, the delight of a nap with the sun edging around the leaves. Peace.

Anonymous said...

I want to steal that dog.(the cats are calling their lawyer right now)

I am a snailmail person. I enjoy talking to those I love in handwritten letters.

Yes, a list~decide & prepare, then expect a bunch of hell to break loose anyway.

You did take some of this home, & gifted it to us. Though from other things you've written I know you don't do Blissfully Relaxing all that well, you look damn relaxed in that picture.~Mary

Chantel said...

Brian--I'd lose my mind without lists! lol And I love getting mail. :)

Marie--lol! So glad I could add to your day!

Dee--it was a wonderful retreat from the world, to be sure. Your camping escapades sound awesome!

Mary--lol@ the dog comment - Hazel would love to visit! And you're right, my list was PAGES long and we still forgot the tongs...making bacon over a fire with a fork? Ouch. And yes, napping was a luxury I thoroughly enjoyed.

Mel Heth said...

You make me want to go camping very badly. It's been way too long for me.