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Camping

November 20, 2018

I wrote this post in June and never posted it. I am posting it now, right before I go camping again. (In early December! And again it is a kid-driven decision! But I am doing it!)

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I am going camping. Camping for 4 nights. Several hours upstate, away from home.

If I recall correctly, the last time I went camping was 35 years ago.

(!!!!!!)

I was 11, it was the first time I’d gotten my period, I was going with a friend whose family I didn’t know too well, and it was beach camping.

Reflect on the sub penultimate noun phrase in the sentence above. You know the one. And hey, I survived! Aside from those facts, I don’t remember anything except the image of a pristine white tent on sand at night, light emanating from within. Is beach camping even a thing? I would not know, not being a camper. My brain may be accessing a piece of stock photography from glamping in Dubai. It is possible.

But my kids want to go camping. It is so nice to give them experiences. And I keep running into people who like to camp. “You like to camp?” I’ll say, conversationally, and they’ll turn and look me steady in the eye and say “I LOVE to camp. It is my favorite thing.”

(It is possible that everyone I run into lives here, and people live here because they love stuff like trees and rivers, and they therefore also camp. Sort of like when you go to the gym and marvel at how thin everyone is. But: when someone is so soulful, so positive about something like that, you’ve got to think hard about it.)

Last year, in my shift away from accidentally living in New York City for 17 years, I had an epiphany, or maybe I made a decision to stop thinking about it like this:

Camping: you have to sleep outside.

to

Camping: you never have to go back in!

There is nothing I love more than sleeping on my sleeping porch. The kids love it, too. It’s pretty much what sealed the deal on this house. That and the light in the living room. And the view. And the brightly painted doors. And the insouciant taxidermy that was everywhere. There is actually a lot that contributed to this being my dream house. (Dream house for me: lots of others have made it clear how they feel about taxidermy, insouciant or no; doors which don’t really work, regardless of hue.)

I recently got a cot and little puffy mattress that fills itself with air, no one knows how, so the sleeping porch is my deal for many warm nights now, and it makes the sleeping porch that much better.

Of course, the sleeping porch does have 2 solid walls, a roof, no bears, and is thirteen paces from my bed and a mere eleven from the bathroom. How to bridge the delta between sleeping porch sleeping and having to sleep outside? By which I mean never having to go in?

Hmmmmm . . . Buy an on-sale tent as big as the house?

Sometimes when I am trying to get my daughter to try something new, something she will most certainly love — most recently a Juan Canary melon — she won’t do it. Just won’t. It doesn’t seem to matter that other melons are her favorite foods: both honeydew and cantaloupe make her so happy that when I put them into a grocery cart, she looks up at me all soft-eyed, and offers the most earnest thank you. Other mothers have stopped and grabbed me by the arm on hearing her tiny, speech-impeded gratitude on the topic of melon. With the canary, I explain that it looks orange but it tastes green. Yum! But she won’t try the new, despite the joy that the known has brought.

Camping seems like one of those things that is so basic but with the potential to be just the best best thing — like eating or sleeping or color or swimming, so elemental  — that I can’t write it off. I must try the melon, so here we go.

 

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