Saturday, June 22, 2013

The First Day of Summer

For most of his adult life, my dad collected half dollars. Somewhere along the way, after we kids had all grown up, he decided to divide up his collection among us. I can't remember how many we each got, but I do remember agonizing over what to do with my share. I kept them for a while then finally decided to put them toward a special purchase: an L.L. Bean tent, two sleeping bags, and a Coleman cooler. We loved our new green tent. Its first outing was at a campground on little Squam Lake; I was five months pregnant with our first child, and Steve and I were spending the summer with friends in New Hampshire. Later on, when our kids were small, we pitched the green tent in our backyard every summer and camped there. I loved those nights filled with stories, games, snacks, and giggling kids.  When the kids got bigger and we could no longer fit comfortably in our four-man green tent, we bought a second smaller L.L. Bean tent to accommodate the five of us on our yearly campouts with friends on Chautauqua Lake. The trips to Camp Chautauqua gradually died out as the kids grew up, got jobs, and moved away. But every summer I still get a hankering to sleep in the tent. The kids can't be talked into backyard camping anymore, but good old Steve usually humors me and agrees to sleep outside once a summer.  Well, since the longest day of the year fell on a Friday this year and since none of our kids were home, I thought sleeping in the tent would be a perfect way to celebrate the first day of summer.  Steve surprised me by saying it was "not a bad idea," right off the bat, and although we spent a few minutes talking about whether we actually had the energy to set up the tent and lug down all the bedding and whether our backs could take sleeping on the ground, we decided to go ahead and pitch the smaller two-man tent. As far as I'm concerned, the two best parts of sleeping in a tent are falling asleep to the sound of crickets and cicadas and waking up to sunlight peeping through the tent windows. The time in between of trying to get comfortable on the hard, bumpy ground is the price you pay for enjoying the falling asleep and waking up!  Last night, soon after we zipped ourselves into the tent, a loud party started in a backyard of a house down the street; instead of crickets and cicadas, there were loud music and even louder voices and laughter.  Finally about 2:30, Steve woke me up and said he hadn't been to sleep yet and he was sorry but he had to go inside.  I nibbled on a couple of graham crackers and pulled out my Kindle, which I discovered is much better for middle-of-the-night tent reading than the old flashlight/book combo I've used in the past, and eventually fell back asleep when the party ended.  I woke up early this morning to a cacophony of crows and the sun shining through the tent's plastic skylight. Steve and I will both be tired later today, and it might take more convincing to get him to spend another night in the tent with me, but I'm pretty sure I'll never lose my fondness for sleeping outside, even if it's only in the backyard!

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